Picture Credit: GIZ
The 16th International Conference on Waste Management and Technology (ICWMT), which was supported by GIZ, was successfully held at the Xijiao Hotel in Bejing from 25 to 28 June 2021. ICWMT was initiated by the Basel Convention Regional Center for Asia and the Pacific (BCRC). Since 2005, ICWMT has been successfully held annually for 15 consecutive sessions. It has become one of the most important academic conferences in the field of solid waste management in the world, and an important platform to elaborate scientific concepts, to display advanced experience, and seek solutions. Under the topic of ‘Building Zero Waste Cities Progressively’, 208 senior experts and senior government officials from 34 countries and regions were invited to give special reports and thematic discussions on the topic. More than 800 expert representatives attended the conference and over 2.4 million people worldwide followed the livestreaming of the conference. Dr. LIU Xiao from GIZ presented the ‘Integrated MSW Management and Low-Carbon Development – IWM NAMA Case Study’ at the main forum of the conference.
As part of the 16th International Conference on Waste Management and Technology, GIZ successfully organized the sub-forum ‘Integrated Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) Management and Low-carbon Development’ in Beijing on 27 June. More than 50 representatives from local governments, universities, research institutions and the private sector enterprises attended.
The sub-forum contents are summarized as follows:
Professor LIU Jianguo from Tsinghua University’s School of Environment pointed out in his report ‘Evolution of MSW Treatment Systems for Pollution and Carbon Reduction’, that China’s MSW segregation has improved the status of environmental quality and contributed to climate change mitigation efforts. Nowadays, waste segregation, zero waste strategies, plastic limitation as well as carbon reduction efforts are included in the national strategy plan. Landfill management and waste-to-energy have made great contributions to the greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction. In the future, the emission reduction paths will be further optimized through landfill gas collection and utilization. Promoting the ‘integration of the two networks’ and integrating recyclables into waste segregation based on standardized management are the main paths for the waste management industry to make further contributions to China’s carbon neutrality target.
CHEN Ying, director of Solid Waste and Chemical Management Technology Center, Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE), reported on the effectiveness of MSW management in the construction of a ‘Zero Waste City’. In her opinion, the initial achievements of MSW management of the Zero Waste City are mainly as follows: improvement of laws and regulations, relevant technical research, financial support and information development to promote the piloting. In the pilot cities, green lifestyles will be practiced, municipal waste generation will be reduced, and more resources will be recycled. The construction of Zero Waste Cities has the same root as the carbon peak and carbon neutrality strategy. China will combine the ‘dual carbon strategy’ to foster the transformation to a high-quality and sustainable economic development.
TANG Jin, Senior Engineer and Director of the Research Institute of Sino Carbon Innovation & Investment Co., Ltd., summarized that the national carbon peak target and carbon neutrality vision are unprecedented in strength. From the definition of the dual carbon strategy, it is obvious that the carbon neutrality requires a higher absolute reduction of carbon dioxide than for the carbon peak, consequently the challenge to achieve the target is also more difficult. The paths of waste management and GHG emission reduction include the application of waste-to-energy options by optimizing waste incineration and landfill systems, as well as enhanced energy and resource utilization in general. Under the background of the dual carbon strategy, the construction of China’s Emission Trading system (ETS) is speeding up, and the participation of the waste management industry in the ETS will gradually increase.
ZHANG Lixia, Deputy Director of Lanzhou Municipal Management Committee, stated that in 2018, Lanzhou was identified as one of the five pilot cities of the IWM NAMA project. Lanzhou has improved the MSW management infrastructure within the city, by constructing a waste-to energy plant, an organic waste treatment plant, a construction waste treatment plant and a recycling industrial park for renewable resources. In the next step, Lanzhou will continue to promote the reduction of MSW generation at the source, consolidate and improve the effectiveness of waste segregation, and scale up the recycling rate to strengthen the city’s low-carbon development goals.
HE Sheng, Deputy Director of the Suzhou Environmental Sanitation Management Bureau, said that the city’s waste segregation results benefited from the establishment of a sound environmental management, policy and regulation system, which includes a waste at source segregation, collection and transportation system. In response to the challenges, Suzhou adopts a fixed-point disposal model to improve the efficiency of waste segregation, and the optimization of organic waste treatment technologies. In the context of carbon peak and carbon neutrality, Suzhou will continue to improve the waste segregation at the source as well as the accuracy of collection, increase the utilization of new energy vehicles, reduce the fraction of plastics in incineration plants, and promote renewable resources.
Professor ZHAO Yan from Beijing Normal University’s School of Environment introduced the life cycle assessment (LCA) and carbon reduction potential analysis of Bengbu’s MSW management system. Since the implementation of the MSW Management Regulations in 2020, Bengbu has comprehensively carried out the segregation of MSW at the source. The NAMA project used the LCA methodology to quantitatively evaluate the environmental factors and potential impacts of the whole MSW management process. After the analysis of the LCA results, it was recommended to reduce the consumption of auxiliaries in the incineration plant, to make use of residual heat and to prevent gas leakages during the anaerobic digestion process. The city government should also focus on the proper segregation of organic waste and increase the recycling rate of plastics, glass, and ash components.
CAI Songliang, Technical Advisor of the IWM NAMA project, introduced the Wasteaware Integrated Sustainable Waste Management Benchmark Indicators (WABIs) and the Waste Wise Cities Tool (WaCT). Developed by experts from several international organizations, the waste management indicators and tool are based on international best practices and adjusted for the specific characteristics of China’s MSW management system. Their target is to improve the monitoring process of the waste management system on the city level, giving instructions for assessment of management performance and supporting the planning of the physical and governance aspects.
In conclusion, more and more industries are providing solutions and are taking action to support China’s dual carbon goals. We still have a long way to go. After more than 40 years of development, China has basically achieved the harmless treatment of MSW, however the country has still a long journey. The next step will focus on the continuous improvement of policies and regulations, the practical exploration of local authorities and the efforts of the public to promote the low-carbon development in the waste sector.