GEF Grant to Enhance the Environmental Performance of Municipal Solid Waste Incinerators in Chinese Cities

November 14, 2014

WASHINGTON, November 14, 2014 – Today the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved the Municipal Solid Waste Management Project, financed with a $12 million grant from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to the People’s Republic of China. This project will help improve the environmental performance of existing municipal solid waste incinerators through capacity building and demonstration of best available techniques (BAT) and best environmental practices (BEP) in accordance with the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). 

Municipal solid waste management is a growing concern for China’s cities. With China’s rapid economic development, urbanization and rising standards of living, the quantity of municipal solid waste collected and transported has increased more than five-fold nationwide from about 85,000  tons per day in 1980 to about 430,000 tons per day in 2009 and is projected to reach 1.6 million tons per day in 2030.

“No country has ever experienced as large and rapid an increase in waste generation,” said Tijen Arin, World Bank’s Senior Environmental Economist and Task Team Leader for the Municipal Solid Waste Management Project.

Incineration is increasingly becoming the disposal method of choice in urban areas motivated by a shortage of urban land for landfills and the national policy encouraging energy generation from waste.  The number of waste incinerators in China is projected to increase from 93 in 2009 to 200 in 2015, with a corresponding increase in daily disposal capacity from 55,400 tons to 140,000 tons.

However, China’s National Implementation Plan for the Stockholm Convention on POPs (2007) identifies waste incineration as the third largest among nine dioxin release sources in China. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), long-term environmental exposure can cause a range of toxicity and lead to serious health effects. In addition, waste incinerators produce other pollutant emissions and residual wastes. 

Stockholm Convention BAT and BEP recommend a series of comprehensive measures to control environmental impacts of waste incinerators, including enhancing incineration and flue gas treatment process, effective monitoring and inspection, and sharing information with the public. However, few of China’s cities and waste incinerators comprehensively apply the Stockholm Convention BAT and BEP. In recent years, concerns have been growing among the regulatory agencies over the environmental performance of waste incinerators, particularly dioxin emissions and the public.

The Municipal Solid Waste Management Project seeks to demonstrate and build capacity for application of the BAT and BEP in two “demonstration cities” - Kunming in southeast Yunnan Province and Ningbo in eastern coastal Zhejiang Province.

In Kunming, the project will support a detailed operational and environmental performance audit, and implement operating improvement programs to minimize dioxins emissions from incinerators. The project will also support training activities for incinerator managers and operators, capacity building for the environmental and municipal authorities, and enhanced public information disclosure.

In Ningbo, the project will support training activities, monitoring and regulation of existing waste incinerators, and public information disclosure. It will also complement the ongoing World Bank-supported Ningbo Municipal Solid Waste Minimization and Recycling Project by studying the impact of waste segregation on dioxin emissions in the city’s incinerators.

At the national level, the project will expand the training program for incinerator managers and operators, and support the Ministry of Environmental Protection and the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development in the development of technical regulations for municipal solid waste disposal. The project will help the enforcement of China’s recently enacted new dioxin emission limit, which is in line with the limits implemented in the EU, Canada and Japan and consistent with the Stockholm Convention.

 “Lessons learned from project will be disseminated broadly so that demonstrated project activities can be replicated in other cities,” said Tijen Arin. It will contribute to China’s efforts to implement the Stockholm Convention in the area of municipal solid waste incineration. The global community will benefit from lower dioxin emissions.”

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) unites 183 countries in partnership with international institutions, civil society organizations, and the private sector to address global environmental issues while supporting national sustainable development initiatives. An independently operating financial organization, the GEF provides grants for projects related to biodiversity, climate change, international waters, land degradation, the ozone layer, and persistent organic pollutants.

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