By Alex Kapadia
The Chinese customs authority has seized more than 8,500 tons of used tyres smuggled from the United States, according to news reports.
The China Daily newspaper claimed it is the largest haul in recent years and flies in the face of a ban on importing waste tyres due to environment and health safety issues.
Smugglers pretended they were importing rubber and shipped the tyres to the coastal city of South China’s Guangzhou via Hong Kong between December 2008 and February 2009, the paper reports.
Huangpu Customs officials in Guangzhou found 366 uncleared containers of the smuggled waste at the Dongjiangkou Port in December. It had been stored there for almost a year.
Transporting waste tyres from the United States to China costs only $4 to $10 per tonne, but smugglers could profit by using the waste tyres for oil refining and tyre retreading, the newspaper reports.
An investigation found the suspects had tried to get a license for rubber imports to cover the smuggling efforts. Three suspects have been arrested.
The newspaper says “exporting waste to developing countries has become a growing business as developed nations seek to reduce the environment cost on their own soil and smugglers eye great profitability from the dealing.”