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Garbage a mounting problem in Shanghai
By Cao Li (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-10-18 08:04

SHANGHAI: This eastern metropolis, host of the 2010 World Expo, is stepping up efforts to handle city garbage estimated to increase to 20,000 tons a day, from the present 16,000 tons.

Waste the city will be able to recycle after the sorting of garbage will account for 10 per cent of the total, by 2010.

"About 10 per cent of the total amount will be reused after processing, like paper or metal products. The remaining waste will be burned or biochemically processed to produce useful resources," said Tang Jiafu, an official from Shanghai's City Appearance and Environmental Sanitation Bureau. "Only the residue will be buried, but in a more sanitary way, which will produce gas as well," Tang said.

The current percentage of recycled waste is unavailable. It is "very low," Tang said.

Chinese cities struggle with the volume of urban waste, as very little waste is recycled and tens of millions of farmers flock to cities in search of a better life.

"Each item of the city's garbage will be carefully treated, either being recycled or processed to produce resources like gas, electricity or fertilizer," said Tang.

Estimates show that the approximate 20 million people living in Shanghai will produce about 20,000 tons of garbage each day by 2010.

The biggest comprehensive processing factory for garbage began construction last month in Putuo District. Upon completion at the end of 2005, it is expected to swallow some 270,000 tons of garbage every year, and provide 41 million kilowatt hours of electricity to east China's power grid and 40,000 tons of nutritious soil for gardening. Another factory in Baoshan District which is capable of processing 500 tons garbage every day is also under construction.

Before 2010, Shanghai will have about five comprehensive disposing factories, eight burning sites and a modern dumping ground capable of handling the city's waste.

"A complete network of other relevant facilities, such as compressing, sorting and distributing sites, will also be brought into line to link the huge processing system," Tang said.

Tang added that the past simple treatment of garbage has already caused pollution to the city's water and soil.

"Now the city produces some 16,000 tons of garbage every day, and 70 per cent of it is simply buried, even after Shanghai's first processing factory in Pudong began operation last May," said Tang.

"A dumping site in Pudong with a total area of 2.6 million square metres is almost full."

It is going to be changed. "But more thought is needed for the exact processing measures we are to take," said Professor Tao Kanghua, an ecological expert and director of the Research Centre on Urban Information of Shanghai Normal University.

"The main composition of garbage will usually change every 10 years with the improvement of living conditions, like the coal ashes in 1970s, plastic bags in 1990s and packaging material after 2000. We need to think over those changes as well when making plans, not simply base plans on the current composition.

"We should try to minimize the cost of processing, not only just the resources we will spend to process the garbage but also the harm it might bring to the environment," said Tao.

According to Tang, the government will purchase all the services through bidding, choosing the most capable enterprises.

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