Rules set for scrap importers
Exporters of scrap material to China are being warned not to dump "polluting or hazardous" waste in the country, or they will face punishment.
"China needs waste paper, plastic and industrial scrap from abroad to feed its growing 'circular economy,' but it will not let in any imports that threaten people's health, safety and the environment," a leading quality inspector said yesterday in an interview with China Daily.
From January 1, 2005, no overseas firms -- either from foreign countries or Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan regions -- will be allowed to supply scrap to the mainland if they are not registered with the State Administration for Quality Supervision and Inspection and Quarantine, said Division Director Shan Wei.
"We are deploying a screening system to filter out potentially dangerous or polluting scrap," Shan said.
Under regulations laid down by Shan's agency in May, overseas scrap suppliers are required to apply for import eligibility with quality control guarantees and environmental management certificates by the end of December.
The agency has so far approved more than 2,000 registration applications from overseas exporters from regions including the European Union, South Korea, Argentina and the United States, according to Shan.
From January 1, Chinese port inspectors will only handle exports from registered firms. Scrap from unregistered exporters will be denied entry, he said.
"We have authorized foreign inspection agencies to conduct routine checks on shipments before they are sent to China," said Shan. "This has helped rein in a large volume of poisonous and harmful waste from entering China."
Chinese port inspectors, with the help of advanced inspecting equipment, will examine scrap on its arrival to make sure it meets China's parameters for environmental protection and safety.
"If we detect hazardous material in the scrap, we will put the exporter on a 'blacklist,' and ban exports from the company for three years," he said.
Statistics indicate the amount of scrap China imports is on the rise.
Xiamen port in East China's Fujian Province gave the go-ahead to import 252,142 tons of scrap in the first five months of this year, a jump of 174 per cent year-on-year.
Nationwide, Chinese entry inspectors checked US$8 billion worth of scrap imports this year through to November. A total of 4,714 separate shipments, valued at US$150 million, from the US, Japan and other regions, were returned or destroyed, according to Shan.
In May, Qingdao port in East China's Shandong Province denied entrance to Japanese plastic scrap as it was discovered to be polluting, he said.
Apart from processing foreign scrap, China welcomes overseas investment in facilities which process scrap produced in China, Shan said.
Regulations for encouraging such foreign investment are being drafted by Shan's agency, along with the Ministry of Commerce, the State Environmental Protection Administration and the National Development and Reform Commission, according to the official.