Controls on solid waste tightened

Chinese legislators on Wednesday warned that solid waste treatment is in a grave situation.

Commending progress China has made in preventing solid waste pollution in the past five years, Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, admitted that “prominent challenges remain.”

The Solid Waste Control Law must be properly implemented, Zhang said as he presented a report to the NPC Standing Committee at its six-day bimonthly session.

The report came after the NPC Standing Committee began to investigate enforcement of the law in May.

The amount of solid waste is large. Management of hazardous waste must be strengthened, the report read.

The law cannot deal with the current situation and does not coordinate with other laws so it is in need of urgent revision

“Each year, the country generates nearly 4 billion tonnes of waste from livestock and poultry, around 1 billion tonnes of crop straw, around 3.3 billion tonnes of general industrial solid waste and around 200 million tonnes of household waste in large and medium-sized cities,” the report said.

Disposal systems for household waste are widespread in urban areas; however, 57 per cent of the country’s villages have none.

The report also listed problems, such as polluters not fulfilling their responsibilities, and local government departments performing poorly in supervision and law enforcement.

The public is not fully aware of environmental protection. Over-consumption and over-packaging are common but garbage sorting is not, the report said.

Legislators suggested more education to increase public awareness of environmental protection and resource conservation. Construction of household waste disposal facilities, especially in rural areas, needs to be accelerated.

Some enterprises fail to recycle waste they produce and dispose of it in ways that are detrimental to the environment and health. Management of hazardous waste is inadequate. Nearly one fifth of all prefecture-level cities have no central facilities for medical waste disposal.

Government officials must improve waste control, hazardous waste in particular. Supervision and law enforcement should ensure enterprises fulfill their responsibilities, the report said.

It also stressed the role of the market.

“Improving payment mechanisms and tax systems and the public-private partnership (PPP) model can assist in handling waste,” it read.

“Governments at all levels should invest in science and technology as well as strengthen policy support for waste control. Universities and research institutions should use their laboratories and equipment to tackle the problem and professional training should be stepped up.”

The 1996 Solid Waste Control Law was last revised 13 years ago.

“The law cannot deal with the current situation and does not coordinate with other laws so it is in need of urgent revision,” the report said.

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