China Wastes No Time in Garbage Sorting

June 7, 2019
Editor: Sandy Zhu

In the remote village of Longxi in eastern China's Jiangxi Province, Chen Liwen explains to villagers how garbage should be sorted.

"You see, this stewed pork bone cannot be disposed of easily, so it should be put into the 'other garbage' bin," Chen says.

Last year, Chen, who studied abroad with a focus on environment-related subjects, came to the village to lobby about the importance of garbage sorting.

In the past, villagers used to throw garbage in a big public dustbin. But after placing two bins of two different colors in front of villagers' doors, and going door to door to promote garbage sorting, Chen managed to ask locals to sift through their garbage before throwing them in different bins.

"The village has become much cleaner," says Chen.

Garbage sorting has become a hot topic in China. This week, the Chinese leadership underlined efforts to cultivate the good habit of garbage classification to improve the living environment and contribute to green and sustainable development.

According to the government, by the end of 2020, garbage sorting systems will have been built in 46 major Chinese cities, and all cities at the prefecture level and above should have built such systems by 2025.

In China, there are many garbage recycling stations, and many people depend on garbage picking to make a living. But garbage sorting remains a problem. As the government highlights its importance, more attention is being paid to this area. Recently, garbage sorting has expanded to so many areas that even temples are joining forces.

In the Jade Buddha Temple in Shanghai, sorted garbage bins are illustrated in Chinese, English and Japanese. Juexing, the abbot, called on Buddhist worshippers and tourists visiting the temple to engage in garbage sorting.

"Garbage sorting is a good way to purify the environment. We are delighted to make ecological progress," he said.

CATWALK, POKERS CARDS

Authorities in Chinese localities are wasting no time in getting the garbage sorted and recycled, with a variety of innovative measures taken, particularly in metropolises like Shanghai, which is taking the lead in this area.

Last week, on Children's Day, a special fashion pageant was held in Shanghai's Huangpu District, featuring 85 children donning colorful clothes made of waste products they collected from their daily life.

The children from 20 kindergartens, primary schools and middle schools, looked glamorous and confident as they stepped on the catwalk. A girl wearing a blue dress flaunted her "peacock tail" as she waved to the audience. The dress appeared to have been partly made from plastic bags. Another girl strutted on stage wearing a dress made from newspaper.

The event organizer said they wanted to promote the importance of recycling waste products and "advocate environment-friendly fashion."

Meanwhile, a community in Shanghai's Minhang district is using playing cards to help local residents easily understand how to sort garbage, as the city will enact a set of regulations on household garbage sorting and recycling from July.

The first 100,000 packs of playing cards have been issued by the Gumei community's environment service center. "Each card is printed with a category of garbage and some clauses of the regulations to allow residents to master waste sorting through entertainment," said Niu Guangcheng with the center.

The spades represent dry refuse, the hearts for hazardous waste, clubs for wet trash, while the diamonds are printed with recyclable garbage.

Trash bins equipped with intelligent voice prompt systems have also been placed in certain parts of the district. These trash bins have inductive probes and can remind the residents to sort out the waste after inputting their house number. They will be awarded credits, which can be used to redeem gifts such as tissues and toothpaste.

"We hope that waste classification can become a habit for every individual," said Zhang Weilin, a local official.

NO MORE WASTING TIME

Zhu Jiansheng, an official with the Shanghai Landscaping & City Appearance Administrative Bureau, said that many cities in China are learning from the garbage sorting experience of developed countries and regions, to find their own ways to deal with waste management.

"Shanghai has resorted to regulations to effectively handle the situation," Zhu said.

So far, 46 major cities have launched over 43,000 garbage-sorting themed lectures and activities, reaching out to more than 12,000,000 people with door-to-door education. They have hired over 700,000 volunteers. Twenty-seven of them have introduced garbage sorting education into schools. Thirty-three cities have published and handed out garbage sorting textbooks and brochures.

In Shanghai, the average annual amount of garbage from people's daily lives has exceeded 9 million tonnes, posing huge pressure on the environment and society's sustainable development.

"If we don't promote garbage sorting, mega-cities like Shanghai would face the threat of piles of waste," he said. "There is no more wasting time!"

(Source: Xinhua)

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