Laws tighten screws on polluters

By Sun Xiaohua (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-03-08 07:00

China will draft and amend a series of laws to further protect the environment from rapid economic growth.

The draft circular economy laws promote sustainable development through a tightened legal framework, and would be submitted to the Standing Committee of NPC for review in August.

The law is expected to pass at the end of this year before the 10th NPC ends its five-year tenure in early 2008.

The draft law encourages the efficient use of resources and energy, while minimizing waste, through its "3-R principle": reduce, reuse, and recycle.

Mao Rubai, chairman of the Environmental and Resources Protection Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), said the draft includes provisions on basic "management requirements" to reduce resources, and reuse them where possible.

"Some mandatory systems with details are written into the draft, which provide the law with a high feasibility," Mao said.

For example, there is an article instructing industry to be responsible for collecting and recycling packing materials of its own products.

The draft also demands the various economic sectors, even government, reuse wastewater, solid waste and waste heat, where possible.

The draft also calls for the recycling of other large waste products such as electronic waste, abandoned auto and ships, and other mechanical products.

Incentives such as preferential tax policies are offered to organizations that take an active role in China's "Circular Economy" - growth through sustainable development. There are also penalties if they don't.

China has learned much from other countries, such as Germany and Japan, which have healthy economies and advanced waste recycling measures, Mao said.

The revision of the Clean Water Act was awaiting review by the NPC Standing Committee.

Law changes include heavier penalties for polluters. Penalties were previously capped at 200,000 yuan ($25,000), but once the law is passed, polluters will be fined daily until the problem is rectified.

"The penalty should be calculated from the day that factory is found guilty of pollution discharge until the day its emissions meet environmental protection requirements," Mao said.

Many industries have flouted the current law with penalty caps - opting to pay the fine, as a cheaper option to fixing the pollution problem.

If the cap is removed, Mao said: "Factories (will) fully realize the importance of abiding by environmental protection law."

The amendment also includes compensation to victims of pollution, Mao said.

(China Daily 03/08/2007 page7)

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