By Hou Liqiang
The country's top environmental authority reiterated the country's zero-tolerance policy toward the illegal production and consumption of ozone depleting substances as a local court in Zhejiang province handed down the country's first prison sentence for environmental pollution related to the chemical.
The legal representative of Minghe Thermal Insulation Material Co in the province's Huzhou city - whose name was only disclosed as Qi - was sentenced to 10 months in prison by the Deqing county people's court on Monday.
Qi was also fined 50,000 yuan ($7,060), while the company was fined 700,000 yuan.
According to the Zhejiang High People's Court, the company had been using CFC-11, which has been banned in China since 2010.
The company also forfeited more than 1.4 million yuan in profits derived from its use of the chemical over the past three years, it said.
The case was unearthed during a two-month campaign launched by the Ministry of Ecology and Environment in 2019 to eliminate illegal production and consumption of ozone depleting substances.
Four other people from Shandong, Henan and Jiangsu provinces who supplied the substance to the Zhejiang company were also arrested, it said.
The ministry applauded the case as one that "fully shows the country's zero-tolerance attitude against illegal activities related to ozone depleting substances".
"The Chinese government has always attached great importance to international environmental conventions and has been resorting to strict law enforcement as a major guarantee to safeguard the achievement China has made in implementing these conventions," the ministry said in a media release.
China joined the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer in 1991.
Since China joined the protocol, the country's reduction of ozone depleting substances has accounted for about half the total reduction by developing countries, according to a previous release from the ministry.