The minister of China’s top environment watchdog vowed to further crack down on waste smuggling and accelerate legal changes to strengthen management, as waste imports to the country decreased by over 50 percent this year.
As of Nov 15, the country imported about 18.6 million metric tons of solid waste, Li Ganjie, also head of a cross-ministry team for reforming waste import management, said in a meeting of the team on Nov 29.
It’s the first meeting of the group, said a media release from the Ministry of Ecology and Environment.
“The work of banning foreign garbage and the reform for solid waste management has entered a deep-water zone and is facing more complicated situations,” said Li, according to the release.
Li vowed to promote changes to the Law on the Prevention and Control of Environmental Pollution by Solid Waste to offer legal guarantees for the ban and the reform.
He also called for strengthening the control on foreign waste smuggling and promoting various campaigns to crack down on such illegal activities. In addition to intensifying the monitoring of the entire waste import process, a special law enforcement campaign will target enterprises that process foreign trash, he said.
The construction of a domestic waste collecting and recycling system should be accelerated with more complete infrastructure and sound recycling standards, he noted.
The meeting was attended by at least 15 government bodies, including General Administration of Customs and National Development and Reform Commission, all members of the cross-ministry group.
Hu Hualong, deputy director of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment’s Solid Waste and Chemicals Management Center, said the draft of the amended law on solid waste includes the “extended producer responsibility”, which is being piloted for fridges, air conditioners, washing machines and computers.
That is designed to integrate the environmental costs associated with products throughout their life cycles into the goods’ market price.
Under the pilot program, manufacturers contribute to a fund to subsidize 109 enterprises that dismantle e-waste. From 2012 to 2017, 7.7 million metric tons of the waste was dismantled. The program is expected to soon cover printers, Hu told a forum in Fuzhou, Fujian province, on Nov 29.
The Ministry of Ecology and Environment established a special department on solid waste and chemicals in September.
The move shows the increasing importance China has attached to solid waste management and will play a significant role in strengthening the governance, said Mei Fengqiao, an associate professor of environmental management at Peking University.
The State Council has adopted a set of measures to counter air, water and soil pollution. Solid waste governance is highly-related to these kinds of pollution, as if not properly treated they will contaminate air, water and soil, he said.