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    New law tightens solid waste disposal

2005-01-11 08:01

A report by the State Oceanic Administration released yesterday said the country's coastal marine ecosystem is deteriorating owing to various pollution sources, of which land waste discharge is the main culprit.

The situation shows how needed was the recent amendment of the country's Law on Prevention of Environmental Pollution Caused by Solid Waste.

The amendment, to a large extent, is in line with China's demand for strengthened management of solid waste.

The Chinese economy has been expanding continually. People's living standards are improving constantly. Urbanization and industrialization are proceeding steadily. This, however, has produced a serious by-product - solid waste.

The discharge of this material has been increasing year by year. With the pile of industrial solid waste growing by 7 per cent year on year and residential refuse in cities at a rate of 4 per cent.

The country's inadequate capacity to properly dispose of this waste endangers the health of people and the environment.

In some places, residential communities are encircled by piles of rubbish, some of which are dangerous or potentially noxious. Most industrial solid waste is left to lie untreated. Electronic trash, such as used computers, are often recycled using basic methods, such as burning, which causes air and water pollution. Experts estimate the ratio of residential refuse safely disposed of could be as low as 20 per cent.

Worse still, environmental pollution caused by solid waste is spreading rapidly to rural areas. More effective management is needed to contain the worsening pollution problem.

The old law on prevention of pollution caused by solid waste was drafted nine years ago. Consequently, it has lagged behind the times as some of the articles were too principle-based to be implemented.

The amended law, which will come into effect on April 1, is adaptable to new circumstances and will enhance the country's environmental laws.

The role of government in a modern society is vital in co-ordinating environmental causes. The amended law rightly strengthens the role.

It stipulates, for example, governments of large and medium-sized cities shall regularly release information concerning type, volume and disposal of solid waste. Governments at all levels, according to the law, are responsible for spreading information about pollution prevention caused by solid waste and to take relevant measures in their development plans.

To address the new trend of excessive packaging, the law requires the State to establish standards in line with the country's economic and technological conditions.

In drafting rural-related articles, law-makers must take into consideration the real situation in rural areas. For example, strict management is imposed on large-scale livestock and poultry breeding, while giving free rein to local regulations for rural residential refuse disposal.

This reflects the down-to-earthness of the law-makers. A uniform legislation is easy to draft, but hard to implement.

Compared with previous legislation, the amended law is significant for imposing different levels of fines in accordance with the severity of breaches of the law. The cap of fines is significantly raised, which reflects the intention of law-makers to stem the worsening situation.

(China Daily 01/11/2005 page6)


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