|Project Rationale and Linkage to Country/Regional Strategy
The continuous economic growth of the PRC since the start of its economic reforms in 1978 has been accompanied by rapid urbanization. The urban population grew from 160 million in 1975 to about 670 million in 2010. Increased urbanization will remain an essential pillar supporting future growth and development in the PRC, but it also poses a variety of environmental challenges. A major challenge is the rapid increase in municipal solid waste (MSW) due to population growth and increasing per capita resource consumption. No country has ever experienced as large or as fast an increase in solid waste quantities as the PRC faced in the last 25 years, increasing at around 4% per annum. In 2010, about 157 million tons of MSW was generated (about 25% of the world's solid waste).
Formal management of solid waste in the PRC did not start until the late 1980s. Prior to the 8th Five-Year Plan (FYP, 1991-1995), solid waste was only managed informally, with most of MSW disposed in dumps either without any or with very limited engineering standards. This situation has improved greatly since 1995, after which sanitary waste disposal capacities were significantly increased in response to the enactment of the first legislation on solid waste management, the Act of Prevention and Control of Solid Waste Pollution to the Environment (1995). During the period of the 9th FYP (1996-2000), the percentage of sanitary disposal of MSW increased from 40% to 50%. Sanitary disposal of solid waste has remained an important target of subsequent FYPs. By the end of the 11th FYP period (2006-2010), the cities' and counties' capacity to collect and remove MSW had reached 221 million tons per year. However, this was insufficient to keep up with the MSW quantities produced, and the proportion of MSW safely disposed was only 64% by the end of 2010. More than 60 million tons per annum of MSW are not adequately disposed of and end up in open dump sites and uncontrolled landfills.
The continuous disposal of solid waste in uncontrolled landfills in the last 40 years has created serious environmental concerns. The government estimates that several thousand uncontrolled landfills exist in or around major cities and towns in the PRC. These dump sites occupy land resources, hinder urban development, lead to groundwater and soil contamination, and produce greenhouse gases and toxic air emissions, contributing to climate change. They also significantly affect community health and safety, providing breeding grounds for rats and other disease spreading vectors.
The government is aware of the problems and risks associated with current waste disposal practices and the legacy of uncontrolled landfills. In an effort to combat these problems, the government has passed laws to protect the environment from landfill contamination. The problem is also prominently addressed in the Master Plan for National Domestic Solid Waste Treatment Facilities Construction (2012-2015) under the 12th FYP (2011-2015). Among other tasks, the plan targets rehabilitation and securing of 1882 uncontrolled landfills and dump sites in or around major cities and towns, with a total investment of CNY21.1 billion until 2015. The plan prioritizes rehabilitation of sites which hinder urban development at the urban-rural fringe, and sites that represent an important risk to water resources. The plan also highlights the need to develop solutions to uncontrolled landfill rehabilitation that take into account local conditions, capacities and needs. However, the technical knowledge to implement these and the necessary financial, institutional and regulatory frameworks are still underdeveloped in the PRC.
To address this issue and work towards achieving the goals set under the Master Plan, the government requested TA to strengthen the PRC's capacity in managing uncontrolled landfills. The TA has been prepared based on extensive consultations with the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development (MOHURD) and key stakeholders. MOHURD will coordinate this initiative along with parallel and relevant activities to be undertaken under the Master Plan.