Reed Smith Client Alerts

The current PRC Law on the Prevention and Control of Environmental Pollution by Solid Wastes (“Current Solid Waste Law”) first came into force in 1996. It was revised in 2015 and has played an important role in working to safeguard the environment in the PRC. In order to better protect the environment, on 29 April 2020 the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress further revised to a substantial extent the Current Solid Waste Law (the new revision being the “2020 Revision”), which came into force on 1 September 2020. The 2020 Revision implements stricter rules on environmental protection in respect of the import of solid wastes. This alert will highlight the key changes in the 2020 Revision and propose some practical suggestions to carriers and importers.

Authors: Lianjun Li Peter Glover Cheryl Yu Miao Li Arthur Lam Leah Lei

I. Key changes of the 2020 Revision

The key changes of the 2020 Revision including the following:

1. Delineation and layering of responsibility of various authorities

Article 9 of the 2020 Revision sets out the responsibilities of the State Council, departments of the State Council and local people’s governments for the supervision and administration of the nationwide law for the prevention and control of environmental pollution by solid wastes. This requires the various departments to take responsibility for the prevention and control of environmental pollution within their respective administrative areas. For example, Article 25 of the 2020 Revision permits the customs authorities to commission a specialized institution to perform attribute identification and exercise management according to the law if it suspects that imported goods are solid wastes.

2. Implement various measures on controlling different types of solid wastes

The 2020 Revision imposes environmental pollution and prevention regimes on various types of solid wastes - such as industrial solid wastes, construction wastes and agricultural solid wastes, and hazardous wastes (Chapters III, V and VI of the 2020 Revision). Relevant provisions have been enacted to strengthen the entire process in dealing with the above solid wastes, including the classification, recycling and comprehensive utilization of solid wastes.

It is important to note that for hazardous wastes, Article 99 of the 2020 Revision provides that an entity that collects, stores, transports, utilizes or treats hazardous wastes shall purchase environmental pollution liability insurance in accordance with the relevant provisions issued by the state.