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Scaling China's Waste Mountains: Potential Governance Reforms to Address Solid and Hazardous Waste


March 27, 2019
10:00 am - 12:00 pm


Environmental Law Institute
1730 M Street, NW, Suite 700 (Map)

Washington, DC (and webinar)


This event is free and open to the public but you must register.

  • Please register by March 22. All times noted are EDT. There is no CLE available for this event.
  • For in-person attendance, REGISTER HERE.
  • For webinar/telecon, REGISTER HERE. Webinar information will be emailed one business day prior to the event. If you are unsure if you can access the webinar via the GoToMeeting platform, please go HERE to view system requirements prior to registering. If you work for a federal government agency, confirm with your IT department whether or not your access to the GoTo software will be allowed or whether you need to use a non-networked device in order to access.
  • Webinar will begin 10 AM Eastern, 9 AM Central, 8 AM Mountain, and 7 AM Pacific.

NOTE: All registrants for ELI events need to have an ELI "account." When you click on the above Register Here link for in-person attendance, you will be asked to log in.

  • ELI members and previous registrants have accounts. If you don't remember your password, please click on the "Request new password" tab.
  • Non-members who have previously not set up an ELI account may click on the "Create new account" tab, complete the process, and then return to this page to register. While creating this account does not confer membership, it will allow you to register for this and future events at any appropriate non-member rate that may be required.

Co-sponsored by the Wilson Center

An ELI 50th Anniversary Seminar

Mountains of trash are piling up in China with booming cities producing more than 20% of the world’s solid waste. Furthermore, up to 70% of this urban waste is food waste that is difficult to incinerate and when deposited in landfills, this waste eventually emits climate-forcing methane. Although hazardous waste regulations in China are increasingly enforced,  historically enforcement has not been stringent, leading to current management challenges. An estimated 85% of the 100 million tons of hazardous waste generated every year is disposed of like ordinary household waste. This detrimental practice presents a risk to human and environmental health.

China has been accumulating a large portion of the world’s waste for forty years. In 2016, China was accepting 46% of the world’s recyclable solid waste, using it as industry feedstock. Since 2017, however, the nation has successively banned many types of imported waste.  A comprehensive waste-sorting program for recycling of domestically-generated waste streams has not been fully implemented in many urban areas; but some private waste companies have begun to fill this gap in various ways as municipalities experiment with local sorting programs. Notably, over the past two years the Chinese government has accelerated campaigns, policies, and legal reforms to reduce what some have deemed “waste mountains.” Emerging policies include plastic waste import bans, increased municipal waste sorting, guidelines on single-use packaging, and cradle-to-grave tracking for hazardous wastes, among others.

Join ELI, the Wilson Center, and leading experts for an exploration of Chinese local governments’ and national-level design and implementation of ambitious waste reduction campaigns, innovative bottom-up opportunities to help reduce waste, emerging solid and hazardous waste legislation and reforms, and public interest cases and actions.

Zhuoshi Liu
, Staff Attorney & Director, China Program, Environmental Law Institute, Moderator
Linda Breggin,Senior Attorney, Director, Center for State, Tribal, and Local Environmental Programs, Environmental Law Institute
Yifei Li, Assistant Professor, Environmental Studies, New York University Shanghai, Global Network Assistant Professor, New York University
Jennifer L. Turner, Director, China Environment Forum & Manager, Global Choke Point Initiative, China Environment Forum, Wilson Center

Any materials will be posted as they are received...

ELI members will have access to a recording of this session (usually posted w/in 48 hours). If you are not an ELI member but would like to have access to archived sessions like this one, go HERE to see the many benefits of membership and how to join.