Residents: new trial system for garbage sorting inconsiderate

Hu Min
Complaints are mounting after trials of a "designated time, designated place' system of dealing with domestic waste begin.
Hu Min
SSI ļʱ
Residents: new trial system for garbage sorting inconsiderate
Jiang Xiaowei / SHINE

Garbage can be seen dumped outside a dumping spot alongside a notice informing residents of the designated time and place on Mengzi Road in Huangpu District. 

With Shanghai’s first domestic garbage regulations taking effect on July 1, a number of residential complexes have begun trials of a “designated time, designated place” method of dealing with their rubbish. 

However, this has sparked an avalanche of complaints from residents.

Chen Jia, a resident at a complex in Xuhui District, found that the garbage bin on each floor of her building had suddenly gone missing.  

Under the trial, the bins have been moved and placed together in one spot, usually at entrances.

Some spots with bins for different types of waste are open just twice a day, usually mornings and evenings, with volunteers assisting in sorting the garbage. 

Officials said the method was designed to eliminate random dumping. 

"The practice has just started at our residential complex, but it has proved to be a mess," said Chen. "There is no effect of garbage sorting at all, and the situation is getting even worse. 

"In most cases, residents just drop garbage downstairs for convenience or sometimes because they miss the dumping time. It's disgusting as waste piles up," she said.

She added: "We are very angry because the property management company and neighborhood committee should have asked for our opinions beforehand instead of removing bins in a sudden.”

Another resident, Liu Jing, said: "It is not proper because we only saw the notification from the property management company."

At a residential complex near the Zhabei Park in Jing’an District, the property management company and neighborhood committee visited residents as they wanted to remove the bins on each floor.

The plan, however, was opposed by the overwhelming majority of residents due to the inconvenience it might bring along afterward, and was suspended as a result.

Residents: new trial system for garbage sorting inconsiderate
Jiang Xiaowei / SHINE

Garbage dumped outside a dumping spot at a residential complex in Huangpu District

There are similar problems at the Yinhe Xindu residential complex in Minhang District. 

District authorities recently released the schedule of when residential complexes across the district will remove garbage bins and put the new practice in place. 

All residential complexes in the Xinhong Subdistrict, for example, should have removed bins by the end of May, while it is mid-June for those at Zhuanqiao Town. All residential complexes in Minhang are required to have the new method in place before the end of June. 

The “designated time” is usually two to three hours during the day and in the evening, and the number of “designated places” depends on the size of the residential complex.

"It is a single approach and remedy without giving consideration to the real situation," said Max Chen, a Yinhe Xindu resident. 

The opening times of the complex's designated place are between 6:30am and 8am and from 6pm to 7:30pm every day. There are only two designated places for the complex’s more than 15 buildings. 

"I usually leave home at 8am, and I often return home after 8pm," he said. "It means I will miss the dumping time quite frequently, leaving me no choice but to dump outside.

"It is even more difficult for seniors, because they need to walk a long way to the site to dump garbage," he said. 

"I once checked the designated dumping spot and found the garbage was failed to be sorted into the right bins, with some people just randomly dropping waste outside the bins," he said. 

When he visited at night, it was impossible to see which bin garbage should go in because there was no light. 

Another angry resident is Angela Zhang, who lives at a complex on Wuzhong Road. It started the new practice about a month ago. She said the trial system was impossible for people like her, who work 9am to 9pm, six days a week.

"I need to take my daughter to kindergarten very early in the morning, and I often work overtime, missing both times," she said. 

"In most cases, the ayi (domestic helper) at my home dumps garbage, but she does not know about correct dumping, and she once just dropped it downstairs," Zhang said. 

"I think the new system is meaningful, but it is too strict because forming habits takes time," she said.

"I think it's much more difficult promoting garbage sorting among seniors than young people," she said. "Even my daughter has a clearer idea of proper garbage sorting than me."

Residents: new trial system for garbage sorting inconsiderate
Hu Min / SHINE

Unsorted garbage is seen at a residential complex in Minhang District which is trialing the new method of garbage disposal. 

The regulations coming into force on July 1 state that the city will gradually promote the "designated time, designated place" model, but the city's greenery authorities said it was not compulsory.

"It is not simply removing garbage bins from floors or original spots," said Xu Zhiping, a director of the Shanghai Greenery and Public Sanitation Bureau.

"It should involve thorough promotion and communication among residents, property management and neighborhood committees," he said. 

"The most proper 'designated time and site' solution should be worked out based on the real situation after discussion. If effective garbage sorting can be ensured, the removal of bins is not compulsory.” 

He added: ”Different situations in different residential complexes should be considered."

The bureau recently issued a guideline saying that although the designated time and place method will be the major way of sorting domestic waste at residential complexes, it was not the only approach. 

It suggests a dumping site for every 300 to 500 households, which is open three to four hours a day at morning and at dusk. 

"It still depends on the real situation such as the size of the residential complex and the number of volunteers," said Xu. "In addition, it depends on the dumping habits of residents.

"The same principle also applies to the opening times of the dumping spot," he added. 

The guideline also states that there should be sufficient advance communication with residents.

During the preparatory period, a working team comprised of the neighborhood committee, property owner representatives and property management company workers should be established, it says. 

The team should determine the amount of garbage produced, the way it is collected and transported, and the willingness of residents to take part in sorting their garbage. 

In the first three months, there should be one or two volunteers at each dumping spot during opening times to check garbage is being sorted properly and to advise residents. 

Patrols should be conducted to prevent random dumping, according to the guideline. 

It also says that a limited number of dumping spots for people who miss the designated times could be established. 

Residential complexes with bins on each floor can be retained if garbage is sorted properly. But they would be removed if not, the guideline states. 

The guideline also suggests a system of rewards and blacklisting to encourage use of the new system. 

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