BY Wu Qing King & Wood Mallesons’ Commercial & Regulatory group

King & Wood Mallesons (“KWM”) is the exclusive partner firm of Thomson Reuters in PRC for its environmental law section. KWM has been a contributor to the “Environmental law and practice in China: overview” (the “Q&A Guide”) for three consecutive years (2016/17/18). The Q&A Guide is a specialized guide to China’s environmental law. It provides a high level overview of environmental law in China and looks at key practical issues including emissions to air and water, environmental impact assessments, solid and hazardous waste, contaminated land, and environmental issues in transactions. KWM provides updated insights for the Q&A Guide every year based on the latest environmental law and regulatory trends. The most recent edition of Q&A Guide 2017/2018 will be forwarded on “KWM Institute”(KWM_China), KWM’s official WeChat account, periodically as special session, providing companies with a complete guide to the legal system and practice of environmental law in China. 

What is the regulatory regime for waste? 

Regulatory regime

Wastes include solid wastes, hazardous wastes, medical wastes and radioactive wastes.

Laws and regulations governing waste management include:

  • Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Prevention and Control of Environment Pollution Caused by Solid Wastes (2015 Amendment).
  • Law of the People’s Republic of China on Prevention and Control of Radioactive Pollution (2003).
  • Measures for the Administration of Permits for Operation of Hazardous Wastes (2013 Revision).
  • Regulation on the Administration of Medical Wastes (2011 Revision).
  • Regulation on the Safety Management of Radioactive Waste (2011).
  • Administrative Measures for Eligibility Licence for the Disposal of Waste and Discarded Electrical and Electronic Products (2010).
Permits and regulator

The road transport administration authorities issue road transport business operation licences for transporting hazardous wastes. The environmental protection authorities issue the following other permits:

Solid wastes. Permits include:

  • permit for importation of solid wastes;
  • qualification licence for the disposal of waste electrical appliances and electronic products;
  • approval of designated processing and use entities of imported waste hardware and electrical appliances, waste electrical wire and cable, and waste electromotor.

Hazardous wastes. Permits include:

  • permit for operation of hazardous wastes;
  • permit for transferring hazardous wastes.

Radioactive wastes. Permit for storage and disposal of radioactive wastes.

Prohibited activities

The following activities are prohibited:

  • Building an installation or site for centralised storage and treatment of industrial solid wastes or landfill of consumer wastes in nature reserves, scenic resorts, conservation areas of drinking water and basic farmlands and other areas requiring special protection.
  • Dumping, piling up or treating any solid waste from abroad within the territory of China.
  • Collecting, storing, using or treating hazardous wastes without a business licence or against the provisions of the business licence.
  • Supplying or entrusting hazardous wastes to entities that do not have business licences for collection, storage, use and treatment.
  • Mixing hazardous wastes with non-hazardous wastes in storage.
  • Carrying hazardous wastes and passengers in the same transport vehicle.
Operator criteria

Entities engaging in business activities of collection, storage and disposal of solid waste, hazardous waste and radioactive waste must meet the following requirements:

  • A sound environmental management system.
  • Relevant technical professionals.
  • Facilities, places, equipment and technics complying with the relevant national standards.
  • Pollutants discharge complying with relevant national or local environmental protection standards.

Among the entities above, an entity engaging in business activities of collection, storage and disposal of hazardous waste must meet stricter requirements such as having:

  • Conveyances meeting the relevant safety requirements of the competent department of traffic control of the State Council for hazardous goods transportation.
  • Disposal technology and technics conforming to the class of hazardous wastes they manage.(Identification standards for solid waste, General Rules (GB34330 – 2017), was implemented on 1 October 2017.)
  • Regulations and systems that ensure the safety of operation of hazardous wastes, pollution prevention and treatment measures, and contingency rescue measures.
Special rules for certain waste

There are specific laws and regulations governing the requirements for disposal of specific wastes, such as the dung of livestock and birds, livestock cadaver, medical wastes and waste electronic products.


Entities or individuals that violate waste-relating laws or regulations receive administrative penalties and may be criminally liable (see Question 6).