The country will start collecting fees nationwide for treating
garbage and wastewater in the interest of environmental protection.
The decision at a conference of the State Development and Reform
Commission was announced on Monday.
Such fees are now collected only in major cities. And even in
these cities, only 55 percent of the sewage discharged is treated.
Most of China's 600 cities do not have sewage disposal plants and
they do not collect such fees. At the same time, the pollution of
more than 70 percent of the country's rivers and 90 percent of
underground water in most parts of the country has created an
urgent need to treat sewage and solid waste.
With more rural residents swarming into urban areas in the
process of urbanization, the sewage and solid waste discharged are
putting increasingly greater strain on the environment. This in
turn affects residents' quality of life.
The amount of solid waste in cities totaled 155 million tons in
2005. Only 14 percent was treated in an environmentally friendly
manner. The discharged sewage reached 71.7 billion tons for the
year, two-thirds of which was directly discharged into waterways or
The situation is so grave that efforts must be made to bring the
damage under control before such pollution poses a threat to the
very existence of both rural and urban life.
It is good news that the central government has put on its
agenda the challenge of reducing these pollutants nationwide. But
there are many difficulties to overcome before we can make
For example, solid waste must be classified before it can be
recycled or burned. Recycling garbage needs cooperation from every
resident. Currently, the rate of classified garbage is quite low.
Most residents lack both the awareness and the appropriate
containers for separating out different categories of refuse.
As far as the fees are concerned, a mechanism needs to be
established to make the fees' use transparent. This is not only
because residents need to be told how their money is spent but also
because informed residents will be more willing to pay the
Making clear the fees' use is a good first step in promoting
environmental awareness throughout the country.
(China Daily April 4, 2007)