28 September 2010
C H I N A By Alexander Gangnus
It’s official: China’s waste industry
is going green. From 2011 onwards,
the country’s central government
will be forcing cities and other
communities to build recycling
facilities – a drive that it will be
underpinning with billions of Yuan.
Furthermore, the government will
be offering incentives to encourage
foreign companies to play a part in
this green crusade.
The Middle Kingdom is fi lling up with waste at the same time as its demand for raw
materials is increasing massively. In 2008, China
produced 223 million tonnes of urban solid
waste: 80% of it was consigned to landfi ll while
much of the remainder was incinerated. This
huge country operates only 460 facilities for
waste disposal, including 366 landfi lls, 17 com-
posting plants and 66 incinerators.
But this situation is about to change. China’s
central government is now looking to turn the
tide in its battle against waste by implementing
several new laws and regulations to promote
recycling. According to offi cial data, the entire
market value of China’s recycling industry
amounted to approximately 1 trillion RMB in
2009, which is equivalent to some US$ 147 bil-
lion. But the Chinese government is predicting
that this market valuation will rise to 1.2 trillion
RMB (US$ 177 billion) as early as 2015. And it
won’t be stopping there.
For the Chinese government, the establishment
of an effi cient, effective and sustainable waste
management system is pivotal to its political
agenda, a fact that can be appreciated by com-
paring past and proposed government invest-
ment in solid waste recycling and disposal: the
budget in the country’s 11th Five Year Plan
(2006-2010) amounts to 210 billion RMB (US$
31 billion) whereas the allocation leaps almost
fourfold to 800 billion RMB (US$ 118 billion)
in the 12th Five Year Plan which starts in 2011.
China is confronted with extraordinarily high
levels of pollution of its air, ground and inland
waters. Realising that the time for change has
come, the government’s next Five Year Plan is
dedicated to the ‘greening’ and sustainable
development of the country. This will mean
China turning its back on land filling and
focusing instead on the environmentally
sound recycling of ‘waste’ materials.
To this specifi c end, the government has enact-
ed a ‘Law for the Promotion of the Recycling
Industry’ dedicated to the setting-up of a spe-
cial fund for research, project development and
implementation. Furthermore, the government
is prepared to grant related tax incentives and
subsidies to companies in China and beyond.
Beijing is pursuing ambitious recycling targets.
On May 4 this year, the state-prescribed treat-
ment volume of municipal waste stood at
60 000 tonnes per day; by the end of 2010, 60%
of this waste is to be disposed of in an environ-
mentally friendly way. It is required by law for
In 2008, China produced 223 million tonnes of urban solid waste.
11 th Five-year-plan 12 th Five-year-plan
Investment volume (in bn. RMB)
P28_China 28 02-09-2010 14:53:38