Environ Pollut. 2023 Jan 5:121021. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2023.121021. Online ahead of print.
China fully implemented the new emission standards in 2016 to further reduce the emissions of air pollutants from the municipal solid waste (MSW) incineration industry; however, the implementation effect of the new standards remains unknown. This study developed the first nationwide air pollutant emission inventory of MSW incineration plants in China based on the measured concentration data from China’s continuous emissions monitoring systems (CEMS) network, and activity level data from the China Urban Construction Statistical Yearbook, to evaluate the effectiveness of implementing the new emission standards and estimate the future reduction potentials. Our results demonstrated that the overall standard-reaching proportions of particulate matter (PM), sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxide (NOX), hydrogen chloride (HCl) and carbon monoxide (CO) were 98.8%, 99.3%, 99.4%, 99.4% and 97.6%, respectively, by comparing with the corresponding concentration limits of new emission standards. The total emissions of PM, SO2, NOX, HCl and CO from 412 MSW incineration plants in 2019 were 1.9, 6.2, 50.8, 4.3 and 6.6 kt yr-1, respectively, which is 33.6-75.8% lower than those in 2015, mainly due to the sharp decrease in emission factors. Pollutant emission hotspots were mainly concentrated in eastern and central and southern regions with large populations and well-developed economies. The analysis of future scenario results shows that despite the continuous increase of MSW incineration amount in the future, if the government strengthens pollutant emission standards and comprehensively implements waste sorting, total emissions and emission factors of air pollutants could be further reduced by 25.8-72.7% and 59.8-81.2%, respectively, by 2050. These findings provide helpful insights into future policymaking and technology selection for China and other countries seeking to reduce pollutant emissions from the MSW incineration industry.