SHANGHAI, Jan 24 (Reuters) - China has launched a pilot programme to create "waste-free cities" designed to use resources more efficiently and eliminate the growing health and environmental risks caused by trash, the environment ministry said.
China faced a solid waste backlog of 60-70 billion tonnes, and the new programme would aim to cut the amount of waste produced and improve treatment rates, Ecology and Environment Minister Li Ganjie said in comments published late Wednesday.
The "no-waste city" would encourage new green development methods and lifestyles in order to mimimise landfill volumes and reduce the environmental impact of trash.
Ten cities would be selected for the first phase, with measures to include better sorting of solid waste, improvements in urban planning and the construction of new treatment facilities, Li said.
After decades of rapid industrialisation and urbanisation, trash has emerged as one of China's biggest environmental challenges, with many of its cities surrounded by mounting dump sites and sprawling landfills.
Authorities have already banned the import of many types of foreign waste in order to encourage recyclers to treat domestic material instead, but firms complain that China lacks the infrastructure and waste treatment habits needed to create a profitable business.
China said earlier this month that it aimed to build 100 new large-scale recycling "bases" by the end of next year as part of its campaign to tackle environmental problems.
(Reporting by David Stanway; editing by Richard Pullin)
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