There is currently an almost insatiable appetite in China for materials, given its breakneck industrialization. But despite the waste this has generated, there has not been a parallel development in sophisticated waste management.
Indeed, the OECD notes in its environmental performance review of China, waste management is still the poor cousin compared to air and water management. Landfilling has remained the dominant disposal method, accounting for 44% of municipal waste, and few local governments implement separate collection and recycling.
Instead, the OECD recommends that China moved towards a circular economy, by focusing on waste reduction, reuse of waste material and waste recycling and related targets.
Furthermore, it wants China to build treatment infrastructure and establish systems for the collection, reuse and recycling of waste (eg separate collection of household waste), including in rural areas.
And while establishing pro-recycling government policies and collection systems, the OECD also wants China to foster a private recycling sector, providing equipment, organisational assistance and training to continue collection and recycling under improved hygienic and environmental conditions.