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Proper disposal of garbage

China Daily | Updated: 2013-07-23 07:31

Efficient and environmentally friendly disposal of urban garbage has become a pressing challenge for the country as it accelerates urbanization.

That one-third of the nation's cities are surrounded by landfills, whose accumulated occupation of land has reached 50,000 hectares nationwide, points to the severity of the problem. What is even more worrying is the fact that nearly 100 cities and 1,000 counties do not have the capability to dispose of the garbage produced by their residents except in landfills. For example, 90 percent of Beijing's garbage goes into landfills.

Incineration is considered one of the most environmentally friendly ways of disposing of garbage, but it requires that garbage be sorted and classified.

As early as 2000, major cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Hangzhou were supposed to pilot garbage classification. However, little tangible progress has been made in these cities in the years since.

Beijing even sent a team of officials, experts and citizen representatives to learn from Japan's highly developed system of garbage sorting and disposal in 2010. However, no progress has been reported in the past three years, despite the fact that the target is to reduce the amount of garbage that goes into landfills to 30 percent by 2015.

It is not easy for nearly 20 million residents in Beijing to sort the garbage they produce, and it is even more difficult for more than 1 billion residents to do so nationwide.

But it is really sad that even major cities, including the capital, have failed to make satisfactory headway in treating garbage in a more environmentally friendly way.

However important urbanization is for China's economic growth, every detail of urban management, including sewage treatment and garbage disposal, is vital to the quality of the urbanization process and to the well-being of those who will live in cities.

Urban residents can hardly expect to live in an amicable environment if urban administrations fail to handle the garbage they produce. Garbage disposal, which leaves much to be desired at present, can be considered as one of the benchmarks of whether China's urbanization can be developed in a healthy manner to the sound development of its economy and the satisfaction of urban residents.

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