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Beijing burns, not buries, unsorted trash to limit landfills

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-06-03 17:05

BEIJING -- Beijing now incinerates the majority of its unsorted household garbage to address its sprawling landfills and as a more environmental friendly way to treat waste, city authorities said Saturday.

At least 60 percent of the city's household waste is now incinerated or is treated, compared with just 30 percent in 2013, said Sun Xinjun, director of Beijing Municipal Commission of Urban Management.

By the end of next year, Beijing will have increased its garbage treatment capacity to 24,000 tonnes a day, said Sun. "By then, all the waste will be incinerated or biologically treated. No untreated garbage will be buried."

He said Beijing's waste treatment capacity had improved greatly over the past five years, with 42 garbage treatment facilities having been built or renovated to ensure harmless, environmental friendly ways of disposal.

"Instead of just burying waste, we are now pursuing more sustainable means of disposal, hoping to minimize harm to man and nature and turn waste into energy," said Sun.

The most common waste-to-energy conversion process generates electricity or heat directly through combustion, while some also use industrial processing to produce combustible fuels like methane and ethanol. This supplies energy and reduces carbon emissions.

Sun said the garbage treatment facilities were built in line with national standards, and emission limits are equivalent to, or even stricter than, European Union standards. "So these plants won't become sources of pollution."

In the meantime, Beijing authorities have encouraged citizens to create less waste and improve waste sorting, he said.

With 21.7 million permanent residents, Beijing's huge amount of household waste poses a thorny environmental issue.

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