BEIJING, Dec. 22 (Xinhua) -- Chinese customs have seized 72 people on suspicion of smuggling 79,100 tonnes of waste including plastic waste and slags during a special customs crackdown, according to the General Administration of Customs (GAC).
At around 6 a.m. on Wednesday, 103 teams of 718 local customs officers carried out raids under the unified direction of the GAC across nine provincial-level regions, including Tianjin, Shandong and Fujian, and cracked down on 20 waste-trafficking gangs.
This year, the country has launched three rounds of crackdowns on trash smuggling, investigating 354 cases of smuggling foreign trash and seizing 763,200 tonnes of illegal waste imports, down 21 percent and 48.64 percent respectively.
Chinese customs will enhance cooperation with international law enforcement agencies, and urged criminals to voluntarily surrender, said the official.
China began importing solid waste as a source of raw materials in the 1980s and for years has been the world's largest importer, despite its weak capacity in garbage disposal. Some companies have profited by illegally bringing foreign waste into the country, posing a threat to the environment and public health.
As part of its anti-pollution efforts, the government decided to phase out and halt such imports by the end of 2019.