Updated 10:35 AM EDT, Thu, Apr 18, 2019

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China to Expand Environmental Inspections to All 34 Provinces

Beijing Blanketed In Heavy Smog

(Photo : Getty Images) Choking smog blanketed Beijing on November 30, 2015 in Beijing, China.

China is planning to expand its environmental inspection reach to all 34 provinces nationwide this year instead of the usual 15, local media reported on Monday citing the Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP).

According to state-backed Xinhua News agency, each region will be checked by MEP's environmental inspectors who will also push local government officials to carry out their duties. China launched the initiative last year, dispatching inspection teams to 15 provincial areas including Beijing and Shanghai.

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In 2016, a total of 440 million yuan (about $64 million) worth of fines was collected and at least 33,000 cases of environmental-related anomalies were investigated. Of which, 720 people were detained and about 6,500 individuals were held responsible of the wrongdoing.

China has been fighting against grave environmental problems such as smog and contaminated soil that pose a threat to its people's health. An estimated 1.6 million people every year, or about 4,000 people each day, die in the mainland because of diseases related to air pollution.

Meanwhile, the country is also expected to recycle an estimated 350 million tons of waste resources such as nonferrous materials, paper, plastic, and steel every year by 2020, according to an official guideline published by the ministries of industry and information technology, commerce, and science and technology.

China plans to come up with a system for renewable resources with the aim to recycle 150 million tons of waste steel, 18 million tons of waste nonferrous materials, 23 million tons of waste plastic, and at least half of its waste paper. 

The country also launched the Extender Producer Responsibility Plan, obliging producers to hold accountability for the entire life cycle of their products including design, consumption, recycling, and up to waste disposal.

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