Shanghai mulls fees on household waste

Shanghai residents could soon be charged for the amount of waste they throw out, as local authorities announced that they are researching the imposition of fees on household waste.
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A resident swipes his user card before throwing garbage into a container at the Pule No. 2 residential complex in suburban Minhang District. This first-of-its-kind container has eight sorting bins with specific designations for hazardous waste, recyclables, food waste and dry waste. The system uses identity recognition, surveillance, scanning and mobile Internet technology and can analyze waste-dumping data. It can also send an alert signal when garbage overflows. The system guides residents on how to sort their garbage correctly and supports a “green account” program, whereby account holders accrue points when they put garbage into appropriate bins. A domestic garbage sorting plan was unveiled in April, asking local residential communities to have at least four different garbage bins for disposal. Since then, an increasing number of communities have tried intelligent garbage sorting systems.

Shanghai residents could soon be charged for the amount of waste they throw out, as local authorities announced yesterday that they are researching the imposition of fees on household waste.

This message comes after China’s National Development and Reform Commission released guidelines earlier this month on levying garbage treatment fees against households based on the waste they produced. According to this document, an urban residential garbage fee system should be established nationwide by 2020.

“An increasing number of countries are using economic means to tackle pollution and emission reduction, and charging fees based on the amount of trash produced is common overseas,” Tang Jiafu, deputy director of the Shanghai Greenery and Public Sanitation Bureau, said at a press conference.

Tang explained that Shanghai is researching the feasibility of imposing fees on household garbage, and also drafting regulations aimed at “strengthening domestic garbage management.” Such regulations will include garbage fees, officials say.

“Shanghai has already implemented a garbage fee system covering enterprises, but this is the first time that garbage fees targeting residents have been included in a national-level policy document,” said Tang. “The guideline aims to cut garbage output and promote garbage sorting via pricing power.”

To reduce the amount of trash that makes its way into local landfills, Shanghai authorities now use “green account” incentives to encourage residents to sort their refuse by category.

About 3.8 million households in the city have registered for a green account program launched in 2013, whereby participants accrue points for sorting their garbage into appropriate bins. These points can be redeemed for items such as milk, soap, toothpaste, phone cards and utility bill payments.

While community-level garbage sorting will be implemented citywide by the end of 2020, Tang notes that an effective waste management strategy also calls for supporting facilities and treatment capacity.

According to Tang, Shanghai’s goal is treat 32,800 tons of domestic garbage daily by 2020. This is about 30 percent more than its current capacity.

In addition to fees and sorting measures, authorities are also stepping up construction and upgrading of trash treatment facilities. Among other efforts, officials intend to build 41 large-scale temporary garbage storage points, as well as 8,000 waste sorting and recycling stations by 2020.

Construction and operational standards on such facilities will be lifted to ease residents’ concerns about garbage treatment facilities being built in their neighborhoods, said Huang Rong, deputy secretary general of the city government.

Shanghai will also promote a model of trash management that encourages residents to dispose of their garbage at designated times and places. This system is already in effect at participating “green account” communities, and Tang said it has proven effect at getting communities to sort their waste.

A survey covering 2,000 residents released by the Shanghai Statistics Bureau in May found that 83 percent of respondents supported designated garbage dumping times.

Shanghai released a three-year action plan on garbage classification in April. According to the plan, residential communities in Jing’an, Changning, Yangpu, Fengxian, Songjiang and Chongming districts will finish implementing a garbage sorting scheme by the end of this year. Huangpu, Xuhui, Putuo, Minhang, Jiading and Jinshan districts will achieve that goal by 2019.

Since April, 593 waste sorting and renewable resource recycling service stations have been built, and construction on the second phase of the Laogang solid waste center and Minhang wet garbage treatment factory have started.

Newly released measures are also targeting waste collecting agencies, some of whom have been criticized for mixing sorted garbage. Under these measures, wet garbage at residential complexes has to be removed daily, while dry trash can be collected and taken away once a week.

Shanghai has also implemented a compulsory garbage sorting scheme for enterprises and is running a trial program known as “no sorting, no collection and no transportation,” aimed at forcing companies to sort their waste.

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