Worsening garbage crisis set to bring higher fees

Updated: 2012-02-27 10:24

By Zheng Xin (China Daily)

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BEIJING - The city government will charge separately for disposal of kitchen waste and other refuse from non-residential buildings starting by the end of this year under a new regulation as it grapples with a garbage crisis.

The new move is expected to encourage people to sort their refuse and pave the way for more efficient garbage treatment, officials and experts said.

Under the regulation, set to take effect on Thursday, non-residential buildings, including companies, office buildings, restaurants and universities, will pay 25 yuan ($4) for each ton of kitchen waste disposed and 90 yuan a ton for other kinds of garbage.

At present, these buildings pay only 25 yuan a ton for any type of garbage.

Fees will rise in subsequent years. In 2014, kitchen waste disposal will cost 90 yuan a ton, with other kinds of garbage costing twice as much.

Lu Jiangtao, a municipal official responsible for garbage disposal, said that the move was intended to encourage the public to "foster a consciousness of waste sorting and reducing the amount of garbage from the very beginning".

The fees collected will be mainly used for household garbage collection and transportation, said Lu.

Experts said that as the city had plans to build garbage incineration facilities to reduce the need for landfill, the separation of food waste from other garbage was important because it was hard for waste treatment facilities to handle mixed garbage.

Further, food waste could be recycled to produce fertilizers, they said.

The new rule is expected to affect restaurants most.

Restaurants that don't separate their garbage, and those that let unqualified companies dispose of their food garbage, would be fined 5,000 yuan to 50,000 yuan and ordered to suspend their business.

"Many restaurants are still mixing kitchen and other waste together, and it's necessary to come up with such a regulation," said Chen Liwen, a researcher with the Green Beagle, an environmental protection non-governmental organization in the capital.

Chen has been investigating how restaurants in the city deal with kitchen waste.

Gao Xueying, marketing director with the Beijing Riverside and Courtyard Co, which owns chain restaurants in Beijing and Shanghai, said the current fee for waste disposal was so low that the company hardly paid any attention to the disposal fees of kitchen waste.

"We haven't collected data regarding how much waste is produced each day or each month. But as the fee will gradually increase, we might take that into consideration starting now," Gao said.

The government also aims to regulate food waste collection and disposal to prevent food waste from being reused illegally.

Those found doing so could face criminal penalties, according to the regulation.

Beijing's household garbage volume grew at an annual average of 8 percent from 2004 to 2008, beyond the city's capacity to deal with it, according to the government.

"The disposal of garbage costs the most, and the government has been paying for that," said Lu.

The present toll for garbage collection and disposal is relatively low in the city, and those who produce more garbage should pay more, he said.

Supervision of the sorting and treatment of the waste is another difficulty facing the government, he added.

The city also intends to adjust waste disposal fees for residential units.

The current annual fee of 66 yuan a household for all types of garbage, set 13 years ago, wouldn't be changed this year, the government said.

The city aims to curb the growth rate of household garbage to 5 percent by the end of 2012 and stop it from increasing by 2015.