In Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) production, China has already surpassed the USA as biggest waste generator worldwide. The fast economic growth has led to rapid increase in household waste. Landfills have mushroomed, causing problems due to the high population density and the economic pressure on lands. Technically, the main barriers in MSW management in China are a lack of operation funds, backward and inefficient machinery and facilities for waste collection and transportation, as well as low public awareness. Take Beijing as an example, currently 1840 tons of solid waste is generated by households per day, but the existing waste treatment facilities are only capable of handling 1040 tons per day, thus facilities are overloaded by 67%, and the residual life of landfill sites is only four years. Many cities in China are “besieged by waste” (so the title of a documentary by Wang Jiuliang: “Beijing Besieged by Waste”) and the total quantity of stored domestic solid waste in the whole country has reached seven billion tons.
Apart from MSW, China is producing huge amounts of industrial waste, byproducts of industrial production and energy generation, like coal gangue and ashes, but also chemical solvents, paints, metals and radioactive wastes. But the issue is not only industrial waste as a byproduct of production in China, the country is also a major importer of recyclables and old commodities and vessels. While the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal intents to limit the scope of waste transferred from developed to less developed countries, the question of when something stops being a commodity and becomes a waste is at issue, especially since the trade in recyclables has become a multibillion dollar market. However this may be, China has a problem with enforcement and monitoring of its existing provisions concerning waste treatment, as hazardous waste is all too often dumped into the countryside or the nation’s rivers. The cancer villages of the Jiangsu Valley, the cadmium contamination of rice harvests in Guangzhou and the 16000 pig carcasses that floated past Shanghai in March 2013 are a clear testimony to this.
Sino-German Environmental Partnership
On behalf of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety, the Sino-German Environmental Partnership project supports the EU-China Environmental Sustainability Programme (ESP) (2013-2016). The objective of the ESP is to support the Chinese authorities in their efforts to achieve environmental sustainability and meet the environmental targets of the 12th Five Year Plan, by reducing water and heavy metal pollution and implementing sustainable waste policies.
As partner, GIZ supports the Foreign Economic Cooperation Office (FECO) of MEP in cooperation with other partners, namely the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) on heavy metal pollution and waste management related issues. The specific objective is to set up a policy support and networking mechanism to synthesize the results of eight pilot projects undertaken in the fields of water pollution prevention, waste management and heavy metal pollution of the ESP and ensure a further up-taking of results on national policy level.
GIZ provides technical inputs on heavy metal pollution and waste management related issues as well as expertise on results-based monitoring and dissemination strategies.
The objectives of the pilot projects in the area of waste management supported by the ESP are as follows:
– Demonstrate effective approaches and improve the policy environment for collection and treatment of waste fluorescent lamps (WFL) in Beijing and Chengdu.
– Provide technical guidance for environmentally sound dismantling of obsolete vessels.
– Explore new path of sustainable development for the sector of ship dismantling.
– Put forward countermeasures and suggestions on dismantling vessels to the government.