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China: New Waste-Sorting Rules to Take Effect in Shanghai

(June 27, 2019) On July 1, 2019, the Shanghai Household Waste Management Regulation will take effect. Passed by the Shanghai Municipal People’s Congress on January 31, 2019, the Regulation establishes rules for sorting household waste and restricts disposable items provided by restaurants and hotels in Shanghai. (Shanghai Household Waste Management Regulation (Jan. 31, 2019, effective July 1, 2019), Shanghai Landscaping & City Appearance Administrative Bureau (SHLHSR), Shanghai Forestry Bureau website (in Chinese).)

The Regulation classifies household waste into four types—household food waste, hazardous waste, recyclable waste, and residual waste—and provides a specific definition of each type. (Regulation art. 4.) Refusing to sort waste in accordance with the new rules may result in a fine of RMB5,000–50,000 yuan (about US$730–7,300) for entities, or a fine of 50–200 yuan (about US$7.30–30) for individuals. (Id. art. 57.)

In order to reduce the city’s production of waste, the Regulation prohibits restaurants and food delivery services across the city from providing disposable dinnerware unless customers specifically ask for it. Hotels are likewise prohibited from placing disposable items in guest rooms without specific requests. All disposable items, if provided, must be environment-friendly. (Id. art. 22.) Restaurants and food delivery services failing to comply with these provisions may face a fine of RMB500–5,000 yuan (about US$73–730). (Id. art. 56.)

In addition, government and public institutions are required by the Regulation to stop using disposable cups and begin using environment-friendly office products, although the Regulation does not specify any penalties for noncompliance with this provision. (Id. art. 21.)

The government of Shanghai has issued detailed rules to implement the Regulation. A notice published on the official government website on June 20, 2019, for example, orders that trash collection and transportation for those units that fail to correctly sort their waste will be delayed or even declined. (SHLHSR, Operational Measures on Refusal to Collect and Transport Waste That Fails to Comply with Sorting Standards (June 10, 2019), Shanghai Municipal People’s Government website (in Chinese).)

According to domestic media, Shanghai has more than 24 million residents and produces more than nine million metric tons of household waste every year. The waste “poses a big threat to the city’s environment and sustainable development.” (Xing Yi, Shanghai’s New Regulation on Domestic Garbage to Take Effect on July 1, CHINADAILY (Feb. 1, 2019).)