China’s war on pollution takes aim at solid waste recycling, illegal dumping
New mechanisms, preferential policies, including tax breaks, will encourage ‘comprehensive utilisation’ of waste, Beijing says
Beijing on Friday outlined new measures to improve the way it recycles and disposes of solid waste, like bricks and concrete, and prevent illegal dumping, in a bid to tackle one of the country’s biggest pollution problems.
New mechanisms and preferential policies, including tax exemptions, will encourage the “comprehensive utilisation” of waste, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said in a statement.
It will encourage firms to “standardise, make green and scale up” the complete recycling of products, including materials used in construction, such as cement, bricks and fire retardants, as well as mine slag and tailings, and porcelain.
Solid waste has emerged as one of China’s biggest environmental priorities as it tries to put an end to illegal dumping and rehabilitate land and water sources contaminated by hazardous chemicals or heavy metals.
According to a study published by the Ministry of Land and Resources in 2015, as many as 100,000 industrial companies had closed or relocated since 2001, leaving behind huge amounts of untreated waste. It said as much as 8 per cent of China’s arable land was contaminated by heavy metals.
The government has been scrambling to respond to a speech by President Xi Jinping on Saturday, in which he vowed to use the full might of the ruling Communist Party to tackle long-standing environmental problems.
The Ministry of Ecology and Environment published new measures on Tuesday to crack down on the illegal transport and dumping of solid waste. It called for action to improve China’s ability to recycle and dispose of hazardous materials.
The environment ministry said in March there were about 9 million sources of pollution in China, of which 7.4 million were industrial. The number has risen by more than 50 per cent in just eight years.
Beijing has also banned the import of many types of waste material, with customs authorities now cracking down on illegal smuggling, as it tries to encourage recyclers to tackle rising levels of domestic waste instead.