China has plans to build the largest waste-to-energy plant in the world. It’s just one of many facilities that developers are seeking to construct as a way of dealing with the country’s every growing volume of waste.
But as YaleEnviroment360 details in a long piece, protests are now mounting against those plants. China is already notorious for poor air quality and loose environmental standards. Residents are worried about the effects that burning trash might have, especially if plants are not up to international standards in terms of emissions controls.
The story has more:
A group of several dozen Shenzhen residents — fearing that landfilled waste ash, leachate, and airborne pollutants from the future Shenzhen East Waste-to-Energy Plant will make their way into the reservoir and the air — has launched a legal battle to halt the project. Their hope: to force authorities to relocate the waste-to-energy plant away from the reservoir, away from their communities, and closer to less-populated areas on the South China coast.
Theirs is one of dozens of protests and lawsuits that have sprung up in China in recent years over the spread of waste-to-energy incineration plants, a technology that the central government and regional authorities view as essential to dealing with China’s rapidly growing solid waste problem. Over the past few years, protests against planned incinerators have taken place in Hubei, Hunan, Guangdong, Shandong, Hainan, Jiangxi, and Zhejiang provinces. Several have turned violent, exposing significant public distrust about these facilities.
As China’s economy has boomed in recent decades, the amount of garbage and solid waste generated in the country has soared from roughly 30 million tons in 1980 to 200 million tons today, most of it winding up in ill-tended landfills around major cities. Those landfills are at or near capacity, spawning illegal waste dumping and burning. The World Bank estimates that by 2025, China’s solid waste generation will double to more than 500 million tons annually.