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Ten Things To Know About Zero Waste City Construction in Chongqing

By YULING CHEN|Jan 14,2020

Implementation Plan for Pilot Project to Promote Construction of Zero Waste City in Chongqing (Main Urban Areas) was released on November 15, 2019. What is a zero-waste city? How to build a zero-waste city? How can it benefit the public? Recently, Huang Qifei, a researcher of the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences, interpreted Zero Waste City from ten views.


Waste transport (file photo)

Build a Zero Waste City Practice Ecological Civilization

Q1: Why should we build a zero-waste city?

A: A zero waste city refers to one with an urban development model, which is realized by the promotion of green development methods and lifestyles, reduction of the amount of solid waste produced, strengthening of recycling programs, and minimization the amount of waste sent to landfills and the impact of solid waste on the environment.

Boasting a large population, China produces a huge amount of solid waste. The stock of solid waste in the country had surpassed 60 billion, although being less than 70 billion tons. The annual increase rate is at over 10 billion tons and tends upwards. China started late in the prevention and control of solid waste pollution. It has been suffering weak design and implementation of mechanisms to reduce the volume and toxicity of and recycle solid waste. Incentive and restrictive mechanisms also need improvement.

Given that, the pilot project to build a zero-waste city is vital for Chongqing to reduce the amount of solid waste produced, strengthen the recycle programs and promote harmless treatment. As a result, the city can perfect the ecological environment and upgrade a livable level.

Q2: What does “waste” mean?

A: The “waste” in Zero Waste City mainly refers to solid waste. The solid waste consists of solid, semisolid and stored-in-container gaseous objects and substances generated by production, people’s daily lives and other activities, which have lost their use-value or are discarded or abandoned although they have not lost such value; objects and substances controlled as solid waste as proscribed by laws and administrative regulations.

Hazards of solid waste mainly come from secondary pollution generated by nonstandard disposal.

Q3: How to build a zero-waste city?

A: Zero Waste City construction involves many fields, numerous steps and every one of us. For example, it concerns clean production in enterprises, green development of industries and green lifestyles in communities. As a result, the process requires a new model with government agencies, companies, social organizations and the public as cooperative participants.

First, the government, as the developer of the pilot project, should be responsible for the establishment of a comprehensive administration system covering the entire process, preparation of policies, mechanisms, laws, regulations, and standards, and also supervision of the entire process.

Second, production enterprises should be responsible for the prevention and control of solid waste pollution and the implementation of Extended Producer Responsibility. In the beginning, they need to design green products and select materials (parts) having little influence on the environment; during the production, they should use advanced technologies and equipment for clean production and reduction of waste solid; they should develop a green design, build green supply chains, and recycle used products.

Third, industrial associations should play their role as the bridge to contact the government, communicate with enterprises and serve society.

Fourth, common people will produce solid waste in houses, offices, schools, parks, scenic areas, hotels and other scenarios every day.

Chongqing pioneers construction of a zero-waste city

Q4: What strengths does Chongqing have in building a zero-waste city?

A: Chongqing has been paying great attention to ecological civilization construction even before the application for the pilot project to build a zero-waste city. It exerted extreme efforts to prevent and control solid waste pollution as one of the four key fields in the battle against pollution prevention and control.

As of 2018, Chongqing completed 7 concentrated disposal facilities of industrial solid waste, with a total capacity of 3.9 million m3; welcomed 71 units operating hazardous wastes, with the utilization and disposal capability of 1.62 million tons per year. In main urban areas, four installations have been built for municipal waste disposal, with a designed capacity of 9,700 tons per day, which can satisfy related demand. One kitchen waste disposal facility stands in the main urban areas, which can treat 1,500 tons of such wastes per day. Another similar facility, with a designed treatment capability of 3,100 tons per day, is going to be established in Luoqi Recycling Industrial Park, in a bid to meet the demand of kitchen waste disposal.

Chongqing has also carried out mountains of researches in technologies to utilize and dispose of solid waste. For example, a study on recycling technologies of waste sand produced by casting allows recycling of 80% of the waste in the casting industry. The pilot project to promote recycling and harmless treatment of kitchen waste turned Chongqing into one of the first six cities passing the acceptance in China.

Additionally, Chongqing became a leading city in informatization of waste solid management, standard management of hazardous waste and environment supervision and regulation in Western China, or even in the entire country.

Q5: What is the goal of “zero waste city” construction in Chongqing?

A: According to the Plan, by 2020, 50% of the subdistricts and towns in the main urban area will implement household garbage classification. All kitchen waste classified, collected and transported will be recycled and the construction waste will be consumed in accordance with regulations. After classification, one ton of household garbage can be used to generate about 300 kWh of electricity and one ton of kitchen waste can generate about 150 kWh.

According to the data of 2018, the collection and transportation volume of household waste in the main urban area was 3.65 million tons and that of the kitchen garbage was 535,000 tons, which can generate 1,175 million kWh of electricity. With the average monthly household electricity consumption of 150 kWh, that’s enough for 653,000 households in a year.

By 2025, a smart solid waste management platform covering industry, agriculture, life, and other fields will be built in the main urban area and the solid waste classification, collection, and transportation system will cover the whole area. By then, all residents will know how to sort the rubbish and Chongqing will see a bluer sky, clearer water, and cleaner land.

By 2035, a complete system of local policies and regulations for solid waste will be basically established in Chongqing and the city’s solid waste management will reach the level of a moderately developed country. Moreover, historical stockpiles of industrial solid waste will be basically safely disposed of, the concept of a “zero waste city” will be thoroughly implemented in all fields of economy and society, and an urban development mode that minimizes the environmental impact of solid waste will form.

Q6: What are the key points of “zero waste city” construction in Chongqing?

A: They involve five aspects:

First, strengthen planning and guidance. Chongqing is going to implement existing plans for agriculture and rural areas, household waste classification, pilot treatment of construction waste, green mine construction and the ecological restoration of abandoned mines, and facilities construction for the centralized disposal of hazardous waste.

Second, implement green industrial production. Chongqing plans to promote the green production process, implement the recycling transformation of parks and build green factories.

Third, practice a green lifestyle. Chongqing will reduce the use of disposable consumer goods, launch the “clear your plate” campaign and the pilot projects of “green cities for express delivery and postal services”, and established “zero waste schools, communities, agencies, hotels, shopping malls and tourist attractions”. The city is going to strengthen overall management and advance the coordinated development of the collection and recycling networks for recyclable materials, hazardous waste, kitchen waste, other waste, food waste, and decoration waste.

Fourth, improve systems and mechanisms. Chongqing plans to make great efforts in overall design, management innovation, technological innovation, smart management and risk control and systematically remove the obstacles and solve the difficulties in solid waste management.

Fifth, summarize and condense pilot experience. Chongqing will summarize the experience in advantageous fields of collection, transportation and disposal of household waste, urban sewage and sludge and kitchen waste, thus forming the experience with its local characteristics.

Q7: What are the features of “zero waste city” construction in Chongqing?

A: After careful study of the Plan, I found there are 45 indicators. Besides the 42 indicators selected according to the national indicator system, three indicators with Chongqing’s features have been added, including the recycling utilization rate of kitchen waste classified, collected and transported, the control of the source/process of express packaging waste, and the harmless disposal rate of urban sewage and sludge.

In terms of local characteristics, Chongqing has given full play to the advantages of the legislative power of a municipality directly under the central government and actively promoted top-level design, local legislation, and institutional innovation. Focusing on pillar industries such as automobiles and laptops, the city has built the industrial chain of solid waste recycling and promoted the formation of green production modes. As for major tasks, it has highlighted five tasks: continuously strengthening the planning and guidance, implementing green industrial production, practicing a green lifestyle, improving institutions and mechanisms, and condensing pilot experience.

The city has set phased goals for 2020, 2025 and 2035, and is slated to gradually include districts and counties outside the main urban area in “zero waste city” construction from 2020, so as to eventually achieve full coverage.

Build a “zero waste city” Promote green development

Q8: What measures should be taken by districts and relevant departments in the main urban area of Chongqing in combination with the actual situation to respond to the pilot work of building the “zero waste city”?

A: The main urban area is the center for Chongqing’s politics, economy, and culture, as well as its open gateway, comprehensive pivot, commercial and logistics gathering area and strategic emerging industrial base. It is a concentration area of dense population, rich high-end factors, advanced industries, an active market economy, important strategic position, and outstanding development contribution.

As the competent authority of industry, municipal departments, I think, should make concerted efforts to provide industry guidance, technical support and policy support. For example, the ecological environment department should play a leading and coordinating role and implement the treatment and disposal of industrial hazardous waste. The development and reform department can make great efforts in the circular economy. The economic information department can make great efforts in green production to promote the construction of a recycling industry chain for industrial solid wastes. Housing and urban-rural development can make achievements in the promotion of sewage sludge disposal and construction waste recycling products. The urban management department can organically combine the domestic waste sorting with the construction of a “zero waste city” and promote them as a whole. The commercial department can make efforts in articles on renewable resources recycling.

By the end of the pilot work, every district and the department will be able to introduce a number of systems, establish a number of mechanisms, create a number of highlights and form a number of experiences. Only in this way can Chongqing’s pilot work be regarded as a success.

Q9: What benefits of the construction of “zero waste city” will bring to Chongqing people?

A: Each of us is a contributor and a beneficiary of the “zero waste city”. After the completion of the “zero waste city”, people will enjoy the real benefits. Also, Chongqing will become a zero-waste city from a garbage siege, and see a bluer sky, clearer water, and cleaner land, just achieving the goal of “lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets”.

In terms of the economic benefit, it is estimated that by 2030, the recovery value of China’s major “urban mines” will reach RMB 2.14 trillion, and the investment benefit from the utilization of rural waste resources will reach RMB 3.97 trillion, the economic benefit of key recycling industrial solid waste is RMB 1.35 trillion, which is expected to bring 40 million to 50 million jobs. The solid waste treatment and disposal industry will become a strategic emerging industry in China.

From the perspective of social benefit, Chongqing is a popular tourist city surrounded by mountains and rivers and changing scenery. Chongqing’s efforts to build a “zero waste city” will bring it a new look and enhance its urban temperament, thus greatly increasing the sense of acquisition and happiness of local residents and foreign tourists.

Additionally, such campaigns as “clean your plate”, “green cities for express delivery and postal services” and garbage sorting require the participation of all, so as to influence each other, improve the social civilization, develop a good living habit and live harmoniously with nature.

Q10: How will the construction of “zero waste city” promote Chongqing’s green development?

A: Globally, the concept of “zero waste city” is gradually being accepted. For example, Japan continues to press ahead with the basic plan for building a circular economy society. The European Union has successively issued the “Zero Waste Programme for Europe” and the “Circular Economy Package”. Singapore has a national vision of moving towards zero waste. Different schemes convey the same core message.

As an important ecological shelter zone in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River, Chongqing faces great pressure in the ecological environmental protection. It is also a typical mountainous and hilly city with precious land resources, which makes it difficult to locate disposal facilities and implement relevant measures. The construction of “zero waste city” will help Chongqing to adjust its structure, optimize its layout, and strengthen its industries and whole chain, thus finally comprehensively improving the level of solid waste in reduction, recycling and harmlessness, even providing a space environment for Chongqing’s next industrial development and promoting Chongqing’s green development and high-quality development in a more efficient way.



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