Garbage sorting becomes a habit for Hongkou residents after Xi's visit
Garbage sorting has become a habit for residents of Shanghai's downtown Hongkou District, which President Xi Jinping visited in 2018 and called the campaign a "new fashion."
Wu Qingbao, a retiree and volunteer at the Ruihong Communiy of Jiaxing Road Subdistrict, said she no longer needs to supervise and explain to her neighbors about why they must do garbage sorting or the classification rules.
"Everyone is spontaneously classifying the household garbage, which has made the neighborhood's environment far better," Wu noted.
President Xi recently replied to a letter from volunteers of the subdistrict who have been helping with garbage sorting, expressing his keen hope to advance trash classification.
In the letter, Xi said he was deeply impressed by the volunteers' enthusiasm for public welfare and their passion for serving the people.
China plans to implement garbage sorting in over 90 percent of residential communities in cities at or above the prefecture level by the end of this year, and then raise the penetration rate to 100 percent by the end of 2025, according to Xinhua News Agency.
In recent years, garbage sorting has been carried out in 297 Chinese cities at or above the prefecture level, with an average coverage rate of 82.5 percent in residential communities.
"Garbage sorting is a new fashion," President Xi declared during his visit to Hongkou in November 2018. On July 1, 2019, the city's garbage-sorting regulations took effect.
An official with the district's vegetation and public sanitation bureau said the campaign is being executed more thoroughly in Hongkou, following the president's guidance.
The bureau has removed more than 1,700 garbage bins and trash disposal boxes from streets to push individuals to develop the waste-sorting habit. Over 3,000 garbage bins were also removed from each level of highrise buildings.
In early 2023, Hongkou generated an average of 393 tons of residential waste per day, down 36 percent from 2018.
In the meantime, every day, around 229 tons of kitchen waste are sorted, triple the amount sorted four years prior. The volume of recyclable rubbish has also increased three times since 2018.
Many smart garbage-recycling machines have been installed in local communities, which can "swallow" empty bottles, cans and paper boxes, weigh and offer credits that can be changed into digital currency on WeChat Pay or Alipay.
These machines have become an important part of the recycling business at the community level.
Another community in Jiaxing Road Subdistrict has been using the garbage recycling credits to buy new exercise facilities or improve the environment of the community for residents.
A pool table and bench, for instance, have been purchased for the community activity center and the children's playground with the garbage recycling credits jointly earned by residents.
"These new facilities give us an incentive to keep classifying and recycling garbage at home," said Li Min, a resident of the community.
Some high-tech gadgets have also been used to promote garbage sorting.
At a community in Liangcheng Subdistrict of Hongkou, a rain water collection and purification system has been installed at many garbage houses, where residents can wash hands with the recycled rain water after dumping their waste.
"Such a device has imperceptibly promoted the low carbon concept among residents," said Cui Fenglin, the head of the community's neighborhood committee.
Its adjacent neighborhood has converted a tiny garden around the corner into a "garbage sorting farmland." Residents are required to put kitchen waste into a fermentation tank, which turns it into fertilizer.
The farmland, known as "A Meter Garden," has become a favorite playground for both children and the elderly. Residents take care of both the followers and the plants. Rainwater is also being collected and recycled for irrigation. The target is to make the community a "no-waste neighborhood," according to the subdistrict.
Intelligent surveillance cameras have also been installed to guide residents on the garbage dumping habit. They can detect the classification of various garbage, remind or warn the dumpers or allow volunteers to have a real-time talk. Volunteers can also review the violations via a mobile app.
Hongrui Apartment of Guangzhong Road Subdistrict has installed solar panels and an ultraviolet disinfection system for its garbage houses to make it more convenient for residents and further promote the environmental protection concept.
Lei Guoxin, Party secretary of the Anqiu residential community who accompanied President Xi on his tour, has witnessed the dramatic changes in the area.
Lei is guiding a renovation project to equip the community's garbage houses with an artificial intelligence system. Any violations will be automatically reported to the subdistrict's command center, which then issues warnings to the violators or dispatches personnel to the scene.
"The new garbage houses will look more pleasant with solar panels on the top," said Lei.
Hongkou has also built a small museum on waste-sorting knowledge at 842 Tianbao Road.