China's Xinhua News Agency reported on February 8, 2017 that China's General Administration of Customs would launch a one-year campaign to crack down on illegal smuggling of "foreign waste," including industrial waste, electronic waste, household waste and plastic waste, according to the report.
The report says the crackdown is part of a larger initiative, translated as "National Sword 2017," which aims to curb what the government considers is a rise in smuggling of agricultural products, resource products, drugs, guns, and other illegal smuggling activities, in addition to scrap and waste. The report says the crackdown will specifically "target gangs and well-organized operations acting illegally."
Since then, ISRI has received mainly anecdotal reports of 100% container inspections at the ports, which has caused delays and added storage and demurrage costs. Many members are worried about the impact on future business as suppliers and customers wrangle over the assumption of risk.
On April 18, 2017, China's Xinhua News Agency reported that the Central Government Reform Enforcement Taskforce overseen by President Xi Jinping approved a resolution that will expand the list of prohibited solid waste materials allowed for import into China. According to the report, the meeting aimed to preserve environmental, health and safety of China and its people and to improve the country's import management system and promote overall solid waste management in China. This appears to be in reaction to captured illegal imports as part of the ongoing enhanced enforcement and inspections under National Sword. Unfortunately, we still do not have official information on what materials will be added to the import ban, but we are advised that the Ministry of Environmental Protection is updating its "waste import catalogues" to expand on the current lists of prohibited waste materials. We are hearing a number of rumors about metals, paper and plastics being the most impacted but in different magnitudes and in different timelines. ISRI members are, naturally, worried about the future access to the Chinese market.