Regulating for e-waste in China: progress and challenges

2012-06-29T13:57:00Z (GMT) by Jing Ye Sam Kayaga Ian K. Smout
Electronic waste (e-waste) is an emerging issue in the municipal towns of China. Its significance is driven by the rapidly increasing quantities, the hazards involved and the valuable materials in it. The poor quality e-waste recycling and disposal methods commonly practised in China have serious and hazardous effects on the environment and on the health of workers and residents. Additionally, industrialised countries are exporting increasing quantities of e-waste to China, complicating the situation further. The Chinese government needs to strengthen regulatory systems to ensure that the huge economic benefits from the e-waste recycling industry are not overshadowed by the negative impact on welfare and overall environmental sustainability. In response to the growing concern on e-waste, the government and other policy-making agencies in China are continuously strengthening the legislative and institutional framework for regulating importation and industrial activities in e-waste recycling and disposal. This paper provides a situational analysis and discusses the basic elements of the existing legislative framework for e-waste management in China. The paper concludes with an analysis of opportunities and challenges that exist in improving the enabling/regulatory environment for a hazardous but valuable commodity in a fast-growing economy.