On 29 April 2020, the 17th Session of the Standing Committee of the 13th National People’s Congress deliberated and adopted the Law on the Prevention and Control of Solid Waste Environmental Pollution, which will enter into effect on 1 September 2020. The amendments are highlighted below.
1. Increased supervision and administrative responsibilities for the government and relevant departments
Local people’s governments at all levels are responsible for the prevention and control of solid waste pollution in their administrative areas. The state has implemented an assessment and accountability system for solid waste pollution prevention and control targets, and has included the completion status of solid waste pollution prevention and control in its assessment. The provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities under the jurisdiction of the State Council may consult with each other to establish a joint prevention and control mechanism for solid waste pollution across administrative areas, as well as collectively coordinate planning, construction of facilities, transfer of solid wastes, etc. The ecological and environmental authority under the State Council will have overall supervision over the prevention and control of solid waste pollution nationwide, while the local people’s governments will be responsible for the same in their respective administrative regions.
2. Improvements to the system for the prevention and control of industrial solid waste pollution and increased producer responsibility.
A discharge permit administration system is implemented where all units that generate industrial solid waste are required to obtain a permit. Units generating industrial solid waste shall provide the local ecological and environmental authorities with information on the type, quantity, flow, storage, utilization and disposal of the industrial solid waste that they generate, as well as specific measures to reduce industrial solid waste, promote specific measures for comprehensive utilization, and implement the relevant provisions of the emission permit administration system. Units generating industrial solid waste shall establish and improve the accountability system for pollution prevention and control for the entire industrial solid waste generation, collection, storage, transportation, usage and disposal process, as well as establish the industrial solid waste management ledger.
3. Improvements to the prevention and control of municipal waste pollution
The state’s municipal waste classification system is clarified and establishes how such waste is to be categorized. The local people’s governments at the county level and above should expedite the establishment of a municipal waste management system for separated drop off collection, transport and processing to achieve effective coverage of such system. Businesses, households and individuals generating municipal waste are obliged to reduce waste sources, properly separate waste for disposal, and assume responsibility as a producer of municipal waste. The local people’s governments at all levels will strengthen the prevention and control of municipal waste pollution in rural areas and protect and improve the living environment there. The state encourages the reduction of rural sources of municipal waste. An integrated urban-rural municipal waste management system should be established in connective areas between urban and rural environments, densely populated rural areas and other places that meets the relevant conditions, while proactive efforts should be made to explore an appropriate municipal waste management model in other rural areas where such waste is to be used or properly disposed of according to local conditions.
4. Improvements to the system for the prevention and control of and construction and agricultural solid waste pollutions
The local people’s government at the county level and above is to strengthen the prevention and control of construction waste pollution by establishing a system for separate disposal and general oversight of construction garbage. Mechanisms in place for preventing and controlling pollution from straws, waste agricultural films and livestock feces shall be strengthened. In addition, an extended producer responsibility system for electrical and electronic appliances, lead batteries, automotive power batteries and other products is clarified. Efforts to combat excessive packaging and plastic pollution are strengthened, and the basic requirements for sludge treatment, laboratory solid waste management, etc., are clarified.
5. Improvements to the system for the prevention and control of hazardous waste pollution
The ecological and environmental authority under the State Council will make a scientific evaluation of the risks according to the danger posed by the hazardous waste and amount produced, implement dedicated management for such waste, establish an information-based regulatory system, and manage and share information on hazardous waste movements. Regional cooperation among neighboring provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the jurisdiction of the State Council will be carried out through building regional facilities for the centralized disposal of hazardous wastes. The use of information technology to strengthen the management and information sharing of movements of hazardous wastes through provinces, and the use of electronic transfer forms is stipulated to ensure that hazardous waste transfer and management are monitored at all times at greater efficiency levels. In addition, the administration over medical wastes is strengthened. For example, it is clearly stipulated that medical wastes are subject to administration in accordance with the National Catalogue of Hazardous Wastes. Regulatory responsibilities are clarified, and the local people’s governments at the county level and above should work to increase capacity for centralized disposal of medical wastes, strengthen its supervision over the collection, storage, transport and disposal of medical waste per their stipulated scope of responsibility in order to prevent pollution and harm to public health.
6. More strict legal liabilities
Severe penalties are imposed for violations along with increased amounts of fines and increased types of penalties, including on individual violators. Meanwhile, supplemental provisions are made to cover the liabilities for specific violations. For example, in case of an unauthorized transfer of hazardous waste, the legal representatives, main responsible persons, directly responsible supervisors and other responsible persons of the entity involved shall be fined and subject to administrative detention.