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Chinese waste management at a turning point

  • IE expo China: strong demand from waste and recycling sector
  • “Waste-free cities” and NAMA initiative give impetus
  • China wants to achieve a recycling rate of 35 percent by 2020
  • Thermal recycling still a challenge


The restructuring of China’s waste and recycling industry is progressing rapidly, and the efforts of the national government continue to increase. The current pilot project of the “waste-free cities”, for example, makes this clear. And the NAMA initiative for integrated waste management adds a climate-relevant aspect to these efforts. The environmental technology trade fair IE expo China 2019 from April 15 to 17 in Shanghai will show how far the development has advanced.


The exhibitor registration phase for Asia's leading trade fair for water, waste, air and soil is not over yet. However, Katharina Schlegel, Exhibition Director at Messe München GmbH already says today: “Particularly in our exhibition sectors waste and recycling, we are observing a growing demand, especially for exhibition space. This development underlines all too clearly the increasing relevance of these topics. The search for made-to-measure solutions in order to close raw material cycles is increasingly accelerated, as IE expo China in April will also reveal.”


“Waste-free cities”
China is not only the most populous country in the world, but also the largest producer of solid waste: the Chinese Ministry of Ecology and Environment just recently announced that the country annually generates 10 billion tons of new solid waste—in addition to a stock of 60 to 70 billion tons. The pilot plan “waste-free cities”, which was launched at the beginning of the year, is now intended to counteract this. The ministry thus aims at minimum generation, maximum use and safe disposal of solid waste, as well as limiting landfilling. By June, ten pilot cities are to standardize and improve the various data collection standards. By 2020, the initiative provides for an index system for “waste-free cities” and an institutional and technical system for the management of such cities. It is not yet known which ten cities are concerned. Dr. Thomas Probst, expert for plastics, plastics recycling and hazardous waste at the German Federal Association for Secondary Raw Materials and Waste Disposal (bvse), can, however, name three of the cities affected by the planned measures. They are: Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen.


Integrated climate-friendly waste management: the NAMA project
Another lighthouse project of the Chinese waste management industry with a climate-relevant aspect is the research project “Integrated Waste Management (IWM) NAMA Support Project”. “The project aims to accelerate the transformation of the Chinese waste sector towards a low-carbon path and pave the way for an integrated waste management system,” says Project Director Mingyu Qian, Beijing. In addition, the initiative shall increase the attractiveness of integrated waste management and waste recycling systems as a financially sustainable and low-CO2 investment field. The initial plan was to set up integrated waste management systems in three Chinese cities according to the international BAT and BEP approaches (Best Available Technologies and Best Environmental Practices). Now there are as many as five demonstration cities: Suzhou (Jiangsu province), Lanzhou (Gansu province), Xi'an (Shaanxi province), Taian (Shandong province) and Bengbu (Anhui province). The project was officially launched on September 27, 2017 on behalf of the NAMA Facility and with the support of the Chinese Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development (MoHURD) as a cooperation project between Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and the China Association of Urban Environmental Sanitation (CAUES). At IE expo China 2019—as part of the supporting and conference program—the project experts will give an overview of the status quo.


Energy recovery still challenging
The projects mentioned are only part of an overall concept aimed at achieving a recycling rate of 35 percent in China by 2020. However, the government does not only focus on recycling, but also on the incineration of waste. Carsten Spohn, Managing Director of the Association of Thermal Waste Treatment Plants in Germany (ITAD): “In China, thermal recycling still poses numerous technical challenges. The high proportion of water and organic substances makes energy recovery difficult, as long as the wet part of the residual waste is not separated and then directed towards biological waste treatment, i. e. composting or fermentation.” To achieve this, China must rely on high-quality technologies and components, according to the economic development agency Germany Trade & Invest (GTAI). Control systems, cranes and grapples were required for presorting the waste; there was also a need for filter systems and modern sorting and processing systems—in particular, foreign technologies and know-how were in demand here.


IE expo China: Asian industry meeting point in 13 halls
The fact that the Asian market is promising for suppliers of environmental technologies and services is demonstrated by the exhibitors’ keen interest in IE expo China 2019. The provisional list of exhibitors is already online at For the first time, the organizers will open 13 exhibition halls (2018: 11) in the Shanghai New International Expo Centre (SNIEC).

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About IE expo China
IE expo China—presented by IFAT—is Asia’s Leading Trade Fair for Environmental Technology: Solutions for Water, Waste, Air and Soil. The organizer of the event is Messe Muenchen Zhongmao Co., Ltd.—a joint venture by Messe München Shanghai Co. Ltd. and Shanghai ZM International Exhibition Co. Ltd. Spanning 128,000 square meters of exhibitions space, the 2018 edition of IE expo China 2018 attracted 1,762 exhibitors from 26 countries and 66,580 visitors from 59 countries. The next event will take place from April 15 to 17, 2019 at the Shanghai New International Expo Centre (SNIEC). With IE expo Guangzhou and IE expo Chengdu there are also two regional editions of the trade fair, focusing on the markets in South and West China.


IFAT worldwide
Messe München not only demonstrates its considerable expertise in organizing environmental technology trade shows with the world’s leading trade fair IFAT. Other international events include IE expo China in Shanghai, IE expo Chengdu in Chengdu, IE expo Guangzhou in Guangzhou, IFAT Africa in Johannesburg, IFAT Eurasia in Istanbul and IFAT India in Mumbai. Additionally, IFAT is a strategic partner of FENASAN and Waste Expo Brasil in Brazil. Together, the IFAT events form the world’s leading network for environmental technologies.


Messe München
Messe München is one of the leading exhibition organizers worldwide with more than 50 of its own trade shows for capital goods, consumer goods and new technologies. Every year, a total of over 50,000 exhibitors and around three million visitors take part in more than 200 events at the exhibition center in Munich, at the ICM – Internationales Congress Center München and the MOC Veranstaltungscenter München as well as abroad. Together with its subsidiary companies, Messe München organizes trade shows in China, India, Brazil, Russia, Turkey, South Africa, Nigeria, Vietnam and Iran. With a network of associated companies in Europe, Asia, Africa and South America as well as around 70 representations abroad for over 100 countries, Messe München has a global presence.


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