Reduce, reuse and recycle

Updated: 2011-12-07 08:00

(China Daily)

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BEIJING RESIDENTS WILL NOT ONLY HAVE TO pay for what they get, they will also have to pay for what they throw away next year.

The Beijing municipal authority announced last month that it will introduce a garbage disposal fee from March 1, 2012, the cost dependent on the amount and type of garbage.

While Dante had those who consume too much lying in the filth of the third circle of hell, for Beijing this circle is the seventh. For beyond the city's outer Sixth Ring Road there now lies a ring of refuse, comprising more than 400 large garbage dumps of tens of thousands square meters each that swallow 18,400 tons of waste every day.

Around 150 million tons of garbage is produced in China every year, accounting for more than 30 percent of the world's total and the Ministry of Environmental Protection predicts this will grow to 200 million tons in 2015.

About 77 percent of the waste processed in China is dumped in landfills, 18 percent is incinerated and 5 percent composted.

In Beijing, more than 13.4 hectares of new land is needed for landfill every year.

And although disposing of garbage in landfills is half the cost of incineration and compost, it causes contamination of soil and water.

We all need to reduce, reuse and recycle, so that we produce less waste.

The garbage we do throw away can become a useful resource if it is properly sorted, classified and reused.

The most profitable part of garbage industry is recycling the waste. For instance, each ton of recycled waste paper can produce 850 kilograms of new paper, saving 300 kg of timber.

Metals are another profitable material. Each ton of recycled iron and steel can turn out 0.9 tons of quality steel, which compared with smelting reduces air pollution by 75 percent and of liquid and solid waste by 97 percent.

The production value of Chinese garbage disposal industry will increase by more than 30 percent in next five years and will reach 260 billion yuan ($40.83 billion) by the end of 2015, according to China Urban Construction Design and Research Institute.

But more needs to be done to raise public awareness of the importance of garbage sorting and reclamation.

It would also be practical and easy for the environmental authority to introduce special bags for domestic garbage and only permit these bags to be used for garbage disposal. The cost of these bags would help cover garbage transportation and disposal costs and also serve as a reminder to the people to have second thoughts before dumping.

(China Daily 12/07/2011 page8)