Eight cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing and Hangzhou were considered national pilot cities for garbage sorting in 1998. Twenty years on, their efforts have not achieved the desired results. According to the People’s Daily, the failure of garbage classification was due to three reasons: a lack of awareness from residents, misconduct from garbage workers and insufficient financial support.
According to a survey released by the Ministry of Ecology and Environment research center, 63.7 percent of people surveyed believe that the reason why they fail to sort the garbage is due to the lack of classified waste bins in their residential communities. 59.6 percent of people blame their behavior on the failure of city garbage disposal services, which mix all garbage together, leading people to think that there’s no point in sorting.
Other reasons include that the residents don’t know how to sort; they have no sense of accomplishment; they think sorting is complicated, exhausting and few people around them do it.
Starting from July 1st, 2019, Garbage Classification will be officially implemented in Shanghai (with the imposed penalties) as part of the government’s bid to tackle the waste problem.
-Fines for individual mixed garbage will be up to?200RMB
-Fines for companies, organizations, and complex mixing of garbage will be up to?50,000RMB
For individuals, authorities will fine a maximum of 200RMB (about 29 U.S. dollars) for mixing the garbage, while companies and organizations that are in charge of garbage sorting, transporting, processing and management will be fined a maximum 50,000RMB (about 72,357 U.S. dollars).
Hazardous Waste, Recyclable Waste, Household Food Waste, and Residual Waste are the four major waste categories.
Check out the colors and Chinese below:
How do we distinguish the categories? Here’s the explanation, let’s start with Recyclable Waste.
Paper, plastic, scrap metal, glass bottles & containers, magazines, books & cardboard, clothes, fabric, toys, take-out or food delivery packaging
This is where your plastic bottles and containers go, unless they are dirty and can’t be cleaned, in which case, they go in the Residual Waste (干垃圾) bin. Pour out the liquid before you throw your drink bottles or food containers away. Rinse them with water and squash them.
Cosmetic brands such as Kiehl’s, Origins, M.A.C, Shiseido, and Innisfree?can take your returned containers and reward you with small samples and membership points.
Household Food Waste
Food waste, expired food, shells & husk, dead plants, Chinese medicine
Any type of food waste belongs in this category. The chicken bones from last night, the shells from your favorite spicy crayfish, shrimp, or crab, the plant you bought three months ago and is now dead, grape skin, fruit peels… but leftover milk or yogurt should be poured directly into your sink.
Most organic food waste belongs here, except things that are hard to break down, like big bones and coconut shells, which go in the Residual Waste (干垃圾) bin. Remember to remove the plastic from anything you put in these bins.
Anything else goes to Residual Waste.
Bottles or cans that are dirty and can’t be cleaned should go in the Residual Waste (干垃圾) bin. Things like face mask packaging, nail polish bottles, cotton sticks, toothbrushes, towels, used tissues, tampons, diapers, cigarette butts, plant pots, plastic wrap, yogurt or milk bottles (you need to empty the bottle first). Clean food packaging goes to Recyclable, dirty and used packaging goes to Residual Waste.
Food delivery containers are incredibly hard to recycle, even the paper-based ones. These containers are often lined with polyethylene and tainted with food residue so they are very unpopular among garbage collectors — it’s not worth their effort to wash them or separate the liners. The same goes for disposable coffee cups. This is a problem.
So here are the four steps we suggest you do. First, separate the clean paper/plastics and dirty containers. Leftover food →Household Food Waste Bin (湿垃圾); dirty containers →Residual Waste (干垃圾) bin; Clean bags → Recyclable (可回收物) bin.
Used batteries (rechargeable batteries, button batteries, batteries), paint cans, waste lamp, paint buckets, pesticides (there are residues that need to be sealed in advance and then disposed of), expired or discarded drugs, and other hazardous materials.
In newer residential areas, they are usually right next to the other bins, in red or with a red label. If you don’t have one in your neighborhood, talk to your local neighborhood management about options for disposal.
More Options for Recyclable Waste
For books,?Duozhuayu?(多抓鱼) is great for selling and buying second-hand books. Funded by Tencent, Duozhuayu has a system that verifies and estimates the value of your books, and they will collect the books from you free of charge.
For clothes, take them back to the store, or take them to H&M. Clothing shops Uniqlo, H&M, and Zara all provide recycling services for used clothes from their own shops; H&M even accepts clothes from other brands.