Chinese Media Highlights New Amendment to Solid Waste Pollution Prevention Law

February 1, 2005

Import of recyclable solid waste has resulted in polluted rivers and coastal areas, threatening China’s essential water resources. To address this problem, the National People’s Congress passed in December 2004 an Amendment to the Law on Solid Waste Environmental Pollution Prevention that will place greater controls on solid waste imports. The amendment also seeks to protect the rights of individuals affected by solid waste pollution. The original version of the law may be seen here.

The NPC announced the revisions in Xinhua (1, 2, 3) and a China Daily opinion commented on the changes.

According to the articles and an explanation accompanying the revised law "Understanding the Revisions to the Law on Solid Waste Environmental Pollution Prevention," the amendment implements a classification system for imported solid waste, addresses management of hazardous waste, and discusses the legal responsibilities of the polluter.

On January 7, the South China Morning Post (subscription only) quoted Wang Canfa, an environmental law expert at the China University of Political Science and Law and director of Center for Legal Assistance to Pollution Victims (CLAPV), saying, "The law is a significant breakthrough for the rights of pollution victims." The article notes that the law places the burden of proof on polluters rather than the victims and holds polluters responsible for cleaning up and restoring polluted areas. The article also mentions that experts foresee some problems with the law, such as potentially poor enforcement at the local level and lack of clarity about how victims will be represented in court and compensated.