[OFF-SITE EVENT] Scaling China’s Waste Mountains: Governance Reforms to Rein in Solid and Hazardous Waste | Wilson Center
Environmental Law Institute, Suite 700 (Arcadia-Yosemite Room), 1730 M Street NW, Washington DC

[OFF-SITE EVENT] Scaling China’s Waste Mountains: Governance Reforms to Rein in Solid and Hazardous Waste

Event Co-sponsors

Environmental Law Institute (ELI)

This joint event will be held at the Environmental Law Institute (1730 M Street NW, Suite 700).

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 the Wilson Center, ELI, 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.

Please go to ELI website to RSVP(link)  to attend in person or via webcast for this event (You will have to create an account with ELI as you RSVP)


  • Zhuoshi Liu

    Staff Attorney; Director, China Program, Environmental Law Institute
  • Yifei Li

    Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies, NYU Shanghai; Global Network Assistant Professor, NYU
  • Jennifer L. Turner

    Director, China Environment Forum & Manager, Global Choke Point Initiative
  • Linda K. Breggin

    Senior Attorney; Director of the Center for State, Tribal, and Local Environmental Programs, Environmental Law Institute (ELI)