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China expands ‘Green Fence’ initiative

Keywords: Tags  Operation Green Fence, Earth Goddess, scrap imports, China Certification & Inspection, China Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Association Reused and Recycling Branch, CIQAR, Nathan Laliberte

NEW YORK — China’s General Administration of Customs has officially announced the continuation of initiatives designed to reduce imports of hazardous materials, according to the China Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Association Reused and Recycling Branch (CIQAR).

In addition to "Operation Green Fence," started in February, Chinese customs officials and inspectors from China Certification & Inspection Co. Ltd. (CCIC) also have been notified of "Earth Goddess—Phase III," an action focused on combating the smuggling of hazardous waste imports from Europe and North America.

In an Oct. 15 e-mail to shippers, CIQAR described the new initiative as an "extension of ‘Green Fence’ (that will) be carried out from Oct. 7 to the end of November and focus on combating the illegal behavior of smuggling hazardous waste."

While the distinction between the two initiatives remains unclear, several importers said the Chinese government is trying to reduce illegal and covert activities.

"What’s different here is that this action seems to target illegal smuggling as opposed to banned substances in scrap shipments," one importer told AMM. "Basically, they are trying to make things even stricter than they already are."

China’s new regime is attempting to establish a framework that resembles those in the United States and other nations that consistently employ strict oversight and regulation of imports of hazardous materials, shippers said.

"This reiterates that China has a long-term intention of intercepting shipments that don’t meet its standards for imports of hazardous waste and material that is not compliant with environmental initiatives," Robert Stein, president of the Bureau of International Recycling’s nonferrous division, told AMM.

Others said that China’s ongoing reforms present serious logistics problems, largely because of notification issues.

"We tend to get this news really late," a second shipper said. "According to CIQAR, ‘Earth Goddess’ has been going on since Oct. 7. How come we are only receiving information now, a week after the fact? We need to know about these things before they go into effect."

China’s potential to enforce stricter regulations on scrap imports will be the primary topic of discussion Nov. 5 at the China International Scrap Conference in Ningbo, China, CIQAR said.

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