Garbage sorting in Pudong a mixed bag

In Pudong, some are trying harder than others as garbage sorting begins in earnest.

Memes and jokes about garbage sorting are doing the rounds on social media and the Internet as people speculate about how strict the new rules will be and how their lives may be affected.

A Shanghai Daily reporter went to Lujiazui in Pudong New Area on Monday to check up on how the pubic, Metro stations and office buildings are handling their garbage.

At 9am, people were filing in and out of Lujiazui Metro station and six garbage bins, three for recyclables and three for dry waste, could be found in the station hall. Unfortunately, tissues were spotted in the recyclable bins — strict no-no — along with leftover food and coffee cups.

Garbage sorting in Pudong a mixed bag
Xu Lingchao / SHINE

Inappropriate items — tissues, food, coffee cups — found in a recyclables bin at Lujiazui Metro station.

Sanitation worker Wu told Shanghai Daily he had just taken some fried noodles from the dry waste bin.

“Unfortunately, I don’t see any difference today,” he said. “No one pays any attention to the rules and just throws away whatever they have in their hand.”

As a sanitation worker, Wu has no power to ask passengers to obey the new rules and there was no law enforcement officer to be seen in the station. Shanghai Metro has also said they don’t have any power to fine people who dump garbage in the wrong bins.

“The best we can do is to send staffers and volunteers to advise and persuade passengers,” said a Metro official, but no staffers or volunteers showed up.

Garbage sorting in Pudong a mixed bag
Xu Lingchao / SHINE

Sanitation worker Wu sorts out garbage bins at the Lujiazui Metro station on Monday.

At 9:30am, officers from Shanghai Urban Management and Law Enforcement Bureau went to the ifc mall in Lujiazui. During previous inspections, the garbage chamber of the mall had failed to handle residual and household food waste properly.

“We have hired a professional cleaning company to sort the garbage,” said Felix Lam, property manager of the mall.

Ye Bingmei, one of the workers in the residual waste chamber, constantly finds food in the residual and recyclable bins.

“Our job is to go through all the garbage down here,” Ye said. A giant waste compressor is able to swallow 8 tons of waste, compressing the residual waste into cubes that are easier to transport.

Beside the residual waste chamber is a new kitchen waste chamber. Air-conditioning and a ventilator work around the clock to keep the room cool and the air fresh.

“We have a lot of restaurants in the mall,” said Lam. “Each has a bin in the chamber with their name on it, which helps us keep track of how each establishment is handling its food waste.

Garbage sorting in Pudong a mixed bag
Xu Lingchao / SHINE

The household food waste garbage chamber of ifc mall only opens during 2 to 3pm and 9 to 11pm every day to prevent restaurants from dumping waste randomly.

Pan Dongmei, an urban management officer, said the flow of people through the shopping mall made it hard to keep track of what was going on.

“Unless we catch someone red-handed, we can’t really do anything,” said Pan.

For individuals or companies, officers will not issue a fine the first time they are caught. “But if they are caught again, they will be fined.”

For individuals who repeatedly offend, the maximum fine is 200 yuan (US$29). For businesses and organizations, the penalty can be up to 50,000 yuan.

Garbage sorting in Pudong a mixed bag
Bai Kelin /

Urban management officer Pan Dongmei checks a bin at the ifc mall on Monday.

At the Shanghai Tower, all garbage bins have been removed from working areas, with four bins for the different kinds of garbage replacing them on every floor.

Ding Huiping, who is in charge of the building's sanitation, said garbage sorting was considered when the building was designed.

“On each floor there is an area designed for the garbage bins,” said Ding. “An elevator just behind the bins is for transporting garbage only.”

After the garbage reaches the underground sorting chamber, workers sort it again before it eventually leaves the building.

Shanghai Tower collected 1,000 bins of residual waste and 800 bin of household food waste last month. Each bin can hold 240 liters of garbage.

Pan said both buildings were doing a good job for now, but keeping it that way in the long term, after the initial enthusiasm wears off, will be the real challenge.

Special Reports