National Sword Update

China is three weeks into their recent crackdown on scrap material imports known in English as “National Sword 2017”. Through this effort, China has exposed smuggling operations which has led to dozens of arrests. In addition, China has confiscated more than 22,000 tons of material.

National Sword 2017 is being viewed as an updated version of the customs policies in China which, in recent years, have had major recycling repercussions. Even though the campaign is set to run for one year, in the future, the policy behind the campaign may become the new standard.

Imported waste, including scrap plastics and electronics, is the target of China’s General Administration of Customs in their effort to carry out the campaign. With its focus on materials that cause severe pollution due to improper recycling at ill-equipped facilities, the enforcement campaign is a reflection of the Chinese government’s plan to crack down on recycling operations which don’t have the proper controls and facilities.

Due to the customs checks that have been implemented on all imported materials, the lead time between the purchasing and consuming of recycled materials could quadruple according to the executive president of the China Scrap Plastics Association, Steve Wong.

The actions from the campaign have caused many forwarding agents to suspend their operations. Arrests of customs declaration agents and illegal shipment importers have been made. Inspections of processing factories are being conducted by enforcement officials. Facilities who are using improper water treatment processes are having their operations suspended.

In addition, fraudulent license usage is also being investigated. On February 24th, China’s General Administration of Customs targeted 9 ports in their nationwide investigation. Smuggling operations were exposed, arrests were made, and thousands of tons of foreign scrap materials were confiscated.

Through the execution of the enforcement action, which was launched because of the public pressure on problems imposed by illegal waste imports into China, the government hopes to protect the environment as well as people’s health and safety.

While costs for legitimate recycling companies will increase, they will benefit from the removal of unfair advantages which illegal operators had been gaining.  Throughout this whole process recycling is still being encouraged.

In just the first three weeks of the National Sword 2017 campaign, China has been able to catch criminal activity that was being disguised through imported waste. It will be interesting to see the achievements that this campaign will bring over the remainder of this year.

You can click here to read the full write-up from Resource Recycling.

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