“Trash” Talk in Shanghai

Shanghai Skyline

The minds of the Shanghainese are filled with “trash” as the city starts its garbage separation rules.

Shanghai has become the pioneer city in China to kick-start the policy, aimed at reducing waste and imp­roving the environment.

From July 1 2019, some 24 million residents in this cosmopolitan city have been required to sort out their trash into four categories — recyclable, hazardous, household food (wet) and residual (dry) waste.

This has become the hottest topic among locals in this financial hub.

Dustbins are selling like hot cakes, with people buying a few for their homes to sort out the garbage.

“Which bin should strands of dyed hair go to? Hazardous? Because of the dye,” a netizen asked on Weibo. She said she spent half the day looking at local government guidelines and trying to figure out which bin her hair should go into. In the end, she flushed it down the toilet.

Others asked: “Should I wash the food container before putting it

in the recycle bin? But food should go to kitchen waste, right?” and “Should tissue with food stains go to the recycle or kitchen waste bin?”

Another netizen joked that she would switch on her waste analysis program whenever she came across garbage, be it a food wrapper on the street or simply a bone, shrimp head and shells.

The guidelines state that a sea shell has two categories — the flesh goes to household food waste and the shell goes to residual waste. So, which bin should a scallop with a small piece of flesh sticking to its side go to? “I am going crazy!” the locals shouted on social media sites.

Each day, they are given two time slots to throw their rubbish — from 7am to 9am and from 6pm to 8pm.

A resident said she finally got to know her neighbor, whom she had never spoken to since moving to the apartment block six years ago. “I met her in the morning and asked if she managed to dump her rubbish on time since she missed the collection deadline by 10 minutes. “We talked for a while and promised to call each other when we go to dump rubbish so that neither of us would miss it again,” she added.

Volunteers were placed at the garbage bins to guide the public. Those who break the law can be fined up to 200 yuan (RM121) for individuals and 50,000 yuan (RM30,280) for organizations or business entities. On the first day, the authorities inspected over 4,200 public and private venues, including shopping malls, hotels and office buildings.

Nearly 15% of them were given warnings for various violations.

Desmond Ng, the chief representative of Malaysian Palm Oil Council Shanghai Office, said his family has been rushing to finish off dinner to meet the 8pm deadline.

“We have to eat early, clean up the kitchen and bring the garbage to the bins located at two particular spots,” he said.

His community started the garbage segregation regulation at the end of May.

Ng commended the move, saying it will ensure a comfortable living environment for future generations. “My family has been recycling our trash. We brought them to the recycling kiosk in our neighborhood for a small reward,” he said.

To further reduce waste, Shang­hai hotels no longer offer disposable toiletry kits to guests. Six items have been excluded from room amenities — toothbrush, comb, razor, nail file, shoe cleaning wipes and sponge. Those found to violate the rules can be fined between 500 yuan (RM300) and 5,000 yuan (RM3,025).

Shanghai has 7,000 lodging houses with nearly 800,000 beds in total.

Gu Jianbin, market regulation department director at the Shanghai Municipal Administration of Cul­ture and Tourism, said the items must meet two criteria — they must be recyclable and easy to carry.

“Shower gel and shampoo are not included as flight restrictions make it difficult for travelers to carry them around, while cotton pads are not reusable,” he told China Daily.

At least 6.5 million sets of disposable toiletry kit are estimated to be used daily if the occupancy rate is 50% for the 15 million hotel rooms across China.

Over 70% of soap bars are discarded after just one stay. This means 400,000 tonnes of soap are wasted annually from China’s over 440,000 lodging providers.

After Shanghai, Beijing is said to be the next to implement the law. In fact, some public institutions in the Chinese capital have started waste management programmes.

The city produces nearly 26,000 tonnes of domestic waste daily. Just last year, it collected 9.3 million tonnes of household waste.

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