China's urban areas will generate the maximum amount of garbage its cities
can handle in another 13 years, posing an even greater threat to the
China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development,
under the country's top environmental administration, has warned that the
garbage pile-up in 2020 would reach 400 million tons, that is, the volume
generated by the entire world in 1997.
The Status and Trend of Solid Waste in China, released by the council
recently, estimates that about 860 million people would be living in the
country's cities by 2020, putting more pressure on the already overburdened
urban waste disposal system.
There are no data on garbage generation in rural areas. But the report warns
that the waste treatment problem even in rural areas is very serious and is
likely to worsen.
Currently, an average urban resident generates 440 kilograms of waste a year,
with 52 big and medium cities (with a population of over 500,000) accounting for
60 percent of the country's total garbage.
Beijing, Shanghai and Shenyang, capital of Northeast China's Liaoning
Province, are three biggest waste generators.
About 70 percent of urban waste is disposed of in landfills, and the rest
goes into making fertilizer.
But the flip side is that only half of it can be treated harmlessly, the
report says. To top it, the country's traditional way of dumping waste has not
only wasted precious resources, but also polluted the environment.
If the waste generation reaches that alarming a level, more toxic elements
like ammonia and sulphur would be released into the air, with pathogenic
micro-organisms, heavy metals and organic pollutants contaminating surface and
Garbage will occupy large tracts of land. In fact, it has already rendered
50,000 hectares of land around cities useless.
Dumping will cause more explosions, such as those reported from more than 20
cities. Microorganisms from urban household waste could reach 30 per cent, and
landfills would produce a larger volume of methane.
The report urges the authorities to introduce more harmless waste treatment
measures. Garbage classification needs to be promoted -- from trash can designs
and public education to making preferential policies and encouraging business.
(China Daily 01/09/2007 page3)