Economic Development and Environmental Sustainability
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2016 11th Issue: How long does it take for garbage sorting to go from "growing" to "mature"?

Over the last fifteen years, mainland China has been working toward effective garbage sorting, and has made huge investments with little success. In Taiwan, however, efforts have been far more effective. China is the earliest country to propose the idea of "garbage sorting". In 2000, the former Ministry of Construction announced the first 8 cities that would accelerate their domestic garbage sorting process. The eight cities, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Xiamen and Guilin, would be models to the rest of the country. By 2011, the total investment for garbage classification in 30% communities reached 400 million RMB in Beijing. Despite this massive expenditure, but the amount of garbage collected constituted less than 10% of the total garbage generated. We estimate that each year, every city invests hundreds of millions or even billions into garbage sorting, to little effect. This represents a fundamental failure in their waste collection models.

Although most people regard Germany and Japan as pioneers in garbage classification, China¡¯s expert in the garbage problem, Wang Weiping, believes that China was the first country to propose national garbage classification. According to the Beijing Municipal Committee, on October 12th, 1957, the Beijing Daily reported, ¡°Beijing¡¯s urban area will adopt the garbage classification collection method as follows: broken cloth, copper, iron, glass, and newspapers will be recycled; coal cinder, broken bowls and basins will be used for brick paving; vegetable offal, chicken intestine stomach, eggshell feather and deciduous weeds retting will become low cost, highly efficient, fertilizer.

Garbage sorting in China really began in 1996. In the Beijing disctrict Xicheng, on FusuiJing Street, Mahayana Lane, environmental groups working with the "global village" initiative, began the first garbage classification. Thereafter, garbage classification was essentially the spontaneous work of civil workers. That is, until 2000, when the Ministry of Construction announced the first batch of pilot cities to accelerate garbage classification: Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Xiamen and Guilin.

As one of the pilot cities, garbage sorting in Beijing began to make substantive progress in 2009. In April of that year, the Beijing municipal party committee municipal government issued "Opinion On Comprehensively Advancing Garbage Disposal" (hereafter referred to as Opinions). This article discussed the standard kinds of coarse points, residents living garbage can be divided into recycling, kitchen waste and other waste. After the publication of Opinions, Beijing formulated the "twelfth five-year" garbage classification system construction plan, with the goal of, creating 600 pilot communities in the city  so that urban residential areas have a garbage classification success rate of 50% or more by 2012, and a success rate of 80% by 2015..

 Over the years, advocating "garbage sorting" has had little effect

According to incomplete statistics, residential areas are still struggling to achieve effective garbage classification. In 2011, Beijing City spent up to 400 million yuan on garbage classification for communities only 30% of the city. Despite the expenditure, the amount of waste collected was less than 10% of the garbage generated.

In the Anzhen community in Beijing, The kitchen waste bin is empty, while the recyclable garbage can is full of kitchen waste. Tens of millions of dollars have been invested in the last fiscal year, and the recycling can is essentially a decoration.

In Hangzhou, the main city in the 1381 communities, 75% of the residential garbage classification qualifies as correctly classified, 70% of residents correctly classify garbage. However, the data given by Hangzhou Environmental Group shows that, out of the 3500 tons of garbage generated every day in the city, only 800 tons, less than 25%, go through the classification process.

Survey results show that in 2014, public awareness of garbage classification in Guangzhou was as high as 90%. However, the public participation rate was less than 30%, and the public garbage classification rate was only 10%. The problem is not that the public is not in favor of garbage classification, nor is it that they are unaware of classification, but rather there is very little public action. Reasons given for this include: the trash classification mark is not clear, there are no incentives, if others mix the trash my work to classify is useless, if others don¡¯t classify their trash, my contribution doesn¡¯t matter, and so on.

In public places, garbage bins are often useless. Some of the major streets in Guangzhou have trashcans with slots for ¡°recyclable¡± and ¡°non-recyclable¡± trash¡±. Unfortunately, reporters found that many of these bins are useless and have no substantial effect on garbage classification. According to sanitation workers, it is rare to see someone pay attention to the type of rubbish they¡¯re throwing away. Most people don't pay attention to the garbage classification and put their garbage in either slot, or even, throw their garbage onto the road instead of in the trash can.

Why is garbage classification is difficult? What is the best way facilitate efficient recycling?

Garbage classification should be a systematic project

Dean of the Shanghai Institute of Science in Environmental Engineerining and Design, Zhang Yi, believes that China¡¯s, garbage classification has done relatively well. "I often communicate with related people in the west, that China's garbage classification is better than theirs. Our results are better, we have a higher recycling utilization rate, treatment and garbage disposal facilities are more thorough." Chang said that sample statistics from Beijing, Guangzhou and some other cities show that China¡¯s garbage classification efficiency is 30% or more, which is higher than the rate of 20% - 25% in European and American countries.

In China, the composition of household garbage has actually changed a great deal. Chang told us that, families¡¯ waste paper, cardboard, etc are often recovered through various waste recovery channels, but the Sanitation Department of Statistics. does not take into account garbage recovery.. Staff involved in the garbage recycling also don¡¯t account for urban scavengers, and the self-employed. By the time the sanitation department arrives to pick up the recycling, there is already very little trash left in the bins.

If one were to let Chinese urban scavengers into Europe, the United States, or Japan, the countries recognized for their classification garbage disposal facilities, the Chinese scavengers would feel as though they had seen treasure after seeing the still colourful garbage. Compared to the black garbage disposal facilities in China, the western facilities have many more recyclable items. People in the west classify garbage for the environment, while China's scavengers do so for survival.

Market roads need to open up

The Government-led waste classification system must be changed. In Chang's view, one of the main problems in the current garbage classification, is that it¡¯s hard to promote and the input and output of garbage collection is very disproportionate. To urban scavengers or self-employed garbage collectors, garbage collection costs almost nothing, while the cost of state-led industrial production, is about 10 times as much with a far lower collection rate. The higher production costs of renewable resources does not increase market demand, and restricts the progress of garbage classification.

For garbage classification to really embark on the market-oriented path is not easy. An army of millions to pick up litter army is obviously not realistic. On the one hand, these people need do need to have a means of survival, are contributing to garbage classification, and are not a great burden to the city. On the other hand, because of the lack of compared individual recycling, the lack of a good service model for large scale enterprises, many families will eventually choose to recycle their trash and the self-employed will be out of work. In order to achieve a comprehensive  collection, transport, and classification of garbage, we need a better model, which will take a longer time.

Sorting process to make garbage classification more effective

Garbage classification must to explore an important issue: the garbage remaining after of sorting are essentially useless. If you want to achieve garbage classification you must establish complete system from the waste source to a transparent processing It was suggested that to carry out the garbage classification without relevant departments to guide mechanism and safeguard system, does not leave the recovery system able to follow up.

We must have professional advice participate in garbage sorting enterprises not only to strictly implement the specification, but also to help with the new garbage sorting transit center project so that we can deal with different categories of food garbage, combustible rubbish, wet garbage, with different transportation and processing.

The purpose of garbage classification criteria is to determine classification methods. Guangzhou sorts garbage into four categories; recyclables, food waste, hazardous materials, and other rubbish. This means that Guangzhou supports the development of recycling and food waste material industry, and gives special priority to the development of the recycling material industry. Garbage classification recycling is only small profit, and still operates at a loss and won¡¯t get financial support for a long time. It can't attract investment even if the existing industrial capacity is more involved, because the garbage classification is not efficient.

Mr Ma how to promote the development of garbage classification in Taiwan?

Began in 1997, Taipei City began to implement "junk off the ground" and "triple recycling plan" regulations. Citizens must participate directly with garbage collection, transportation, timing, location, and removal manner, to facilitate public garbage classification.

All beginnings are hard. At the beginning of the implementation of the garbage classification recycling, more than 70000 civil servants in Taipai took two or three months, working every day, requiring community supervision. The Taipei City Environmental Protection Bureau Chief said that when he began implementing policy, people repeatedly threw eggs. Although the implementation of the policy has not been smooth sailing, the government has continued implementation.

Ma often carries garbage bag to explain classification to the public and mobilize the community. He appeared once on public television in an apron garbage bag, he even appeared at a wedding banquet with garbage bags to answer garbage classification questions.

On July 1, 2000, the Taipei began to implement fully garbage collection fee with the bags. The garbage collection fee came with the bags, and the amount of waste you generate is the amout of garbage bags you must pack. The Taipei resource recovery rate was only 2.4% at the time, and they implemented the "user pays, polluter pays" principle of environmental protection. This made the garbage classification far easier and attempts to reduce litter become part of the living habits of 2.7 million Taipei residents.

Citizens are able to go to designated places, such as convenience stores, to purchase Taipei City Environmental Protection Bureau designated garbage bags, which cost5 NT per liter. Municipal garbage trucks charge only for using the designated bags of garbage, while classified garbage is free of charge.

People who do not comply with the provisions of the garbage classification are fined an RMB 1200-6000 new Taiwan dollars (about RMB 240-1200) ticket by the Taipei City Government. The are also charged a 20% penalty for each infraction; trafficking in counterfeit garbage bags can incur a fine of NT $10 million and can be sentenced to 2 to 7 years imprisonment. Selling pseudo-flagged bags can incur a charge of NT $30000-100000, 1 to 7 years imprisonment; and reporting a false bag  will have a maximum bonus of NT $500000.

The beauty of this policy is that the environmental behavior and economic incentives are closely aligned. Housewife and grandfathers and grandmothers who spend a little time each day can get it done quickly and effectively. For example, kitchen waste will take a long time to go sour, housewives would make flower fertilizer with kitchen waste, , and can deal with rubbish.

Ma in 2001 accepted an interview with a reporter from The People's Daily . In the subsequent article, he said there is an 80 - year - old old man who told me a month before that he would spend more than 100 dollars on the garbage fee, but now spends no more than 80 pieces. Because there is a lot of garbage recycled, prices have gone down. The old man was delighted, and we feel even more happy. When waste is reduced, the waste of society as a whole is reduced, and wealth is increased."

"Garbage classification has become a part of our life, if I go to work or on a business trip, I always take rubbish into consideration. For example, if the garbage place closes at 7 pm the night I leave, I will not have time to have appointments with people." A teacher from Taipei New World University talked to radio anchor Dong Zhenluan and said that she lived in shibei district of Taipei. the teacher thinks that garbage sorting in Taipei is already firmly established and has changed people's habits. To buy special garbage bags costs money, and housewifes will calculate that into their budget when they are going to buy food, so as to not create more rubbish".

Taipei City Environmental Protection Bureau's Fifth Division (responsible for garbage classification) Chief Cui Haozhi witnessed the garbage classification policy implementation in Taipei. She remembers how then Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou worked with the city government staff on-site to promote "junk off the ground", which has now finally paid off.

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