Chinese add new phase to Green Fence crackdown

21st Oct 2013

The latest escalation of China’s Green Fence policy will add another layer of difficulty for recyclers hoping to export waste plastics from the UK.  This needn’t necessarily mean that there is no market for non-standard plastic waste.  We have good relationships with a wide range of specialist plastic re-processors across the UK and can advise as to the best way to deal with plastic waste streams and divert them from landfill.   Revenues are still available for plastic wastes which are handled properly and presented for recycling in the optimum way. 

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An extension of the Green Fence initiative appears to have been introduced by China with the announcement of a month-long international crackdown on the illegal transfer of waste.

According to a report on the Xinhua media website – and referenced on the official Government website – operation Earth Goddess will target illegal hazardous waste and other types of waste exported from Europe and North America to the Asia-Pacific region.

It also indicates that Green Fence has resulted in 54 seizures of illegal waste so far.

The article says Earth Goddess will take place until the end of November and exporting countries will notify the World Customs Organisation (WCO) of cargo movements, setting in train a reporting process that could lead to inspection and investigation. The UK, which joined the WCO in 1952, is involved.

Earlier versions of Operation Demeter - a global customs initiative to crack down on illegal hazardous waste from Europe to Asia/Pacific and Africa - have been staged in 2009 and 2012.

A translation of the Xinhua article, prepared for MRW by The Environment Exchange (t2e), says: “At present, the operation involves the US, Netherlands, and 43 members of the WCO and three intelligence liaison offices in the WCO areas. Also Basel Convention secretariats, International Criminal Police Organisation, United Nations Environment Programme, the International Environmental Network Compliance and Enforcement, EU Environmental Enforcement Network have signed up for this action”.

The article goes on: “The third phase of Earth Goddess is an extension of international collaboration of the Green Fence operation which was carried out earlier this year by the Chinese custom to target foreign rubbish. So far, Green Fence has achieved 54 cases, seizing 33,500 tonnes of waste batteries, waste slag, waste paint, tires, old clothes and other type of rubbish”.

t2e managing director Angus Macpherson said: “It is good to see that this major operation has discovered in comparison to the total quantity of secondary raw materials imported into China so few problem cargoes, which is an acknowledgement of how far the recycling industry has moved towards a secondary raw material industry outwith the legislative framework of waste”.

He praised China for taking a proactive role “to raise standards and police them globally”.

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