Vil­lage finds winning for­mula for garbage

China Daily (Canada) - - HOLIDAY -

Empty nesters pick up trash for points that they can re­deem for other items

trash can be seen — not even a cig­a­rette butt on the ground — al­though some refuse was spot­ted at one place along the road­side. The vil­lage com­prises more than 300 long-term res­i­dents, the youngest of whom is 48. The younger gen­er­a­tion is ab­sent, hav­ing mi­grated to other places to find work.

Be­fore the cam­paign, about half a met­ric ton of waste was gen­er­ated in the vil­lage every day. In the busy farm­ing sea­son, the sole garbage ve­hi­cle of­ten failed to trans­port the trash away for treat­ment in a timely man­ner, and waste con­tin­u­ally piled up at the road­side, re­called Wang Jian­guo, the vil­lage Party chief.

“A ma­jor rea­son for the large amount of waste was that peo­ple had no con­cept of garbage sort­ing,” he said, not­ing that many threw things that could be com­posted — such as rot­ten veg­eta­bles and fruit — into the trash can.

He said res­i­dents mainly de­pend on peach trees to make a liv­ing, and many of them would throw empty pes­ti­cide bot­tles and pack­ages ran­domly around their farms.

The idea for the “zero pol­lu­tion” cam­paign oc­curred to Liu An­fen, now 69, a re­tired teacher from the vil­lage who had set­tled down in an ur­ban area. She be­came con­cerned af­ter find­ing that the vil­lage, once char­ac­ter­ized by “lush moun­tains and clear wa­ter”, had been in­creas­ingly trou­bled by trash. She shared the idea with Wang and won his sup­port.

“I had been par­tic­i­pat­ing in en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion ac­tiv­i­ties for a while at the time. I wanted to do some­thing for my home­town,” Liu said.

The cam­paign was not easy to start be­cause of vil­lagers’ lack of con­scious­ness about en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion. Each house­hold was given three large trash bins: red and green ones for un­cooked and cooked kitchen waste, and a blue one for other waste. Some peo­ple re­fused to use the bins be­cause they thought sort­ing waste was trou­ble­some. Some sug­gested dis­tribut­ing the money needed for the cam­paign among the res­i­dents.

Lo­cal of­fi­cials vis­ited those who re­fused to co­op­er­ate reg­u­larly and grad­u­ally man­aged to win their sup­port, Liu said.

Kitchen waste is used to make urea and nat­u­ral fer­til­izer. For other waste that can’t be re­cy­cled lo­cally, such as pes­ti­cide pack­ages and wastepa­per, Liu and Wang came up with a points-based gift re­demp­tion pro­gram clas­si­fi­ca­tion.

This makes things in­ter­est­ing, Liu said.

At a monthly en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion fair, peo­ple can ex­change points ac­crued in garbage col­lec­tion for daily ne­ces­si­ties. Vil­lagers will get half a point, for ex­am­ple, for one cig­a­rette butt.

A fe­male res­i­dent sur­named Mao once got scis­sors and a ther­mos bot­tle us­ing the points she ac­crued by col­lect­ing card­board car­tons.

“Pre­vi­ously, we threw them away,” she said. “They can now be used to ex­change for daily ne­ces­si­ties, so I save them.”

The in­come from sell­ing col­lected to pro­mote waste is far from enough to cover the ex­pense and many of the com­modi­ties are sim­ply do­nated by peo­ple who are en­thu­si­as­tic about en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion, Liu said.

Wang said waste in the vil­lage has been re­duced by 80 per­cent. About 70 per­cent of it is used to make nat­u­ral fer­til­izer.

He said the cam­paign won sup­port from the town­ship gov­ern­ment af­ter it proved suc­cess­ful. In ad­di­tion to a startup fund of 30,000 yuan ($4,400), the lo­cal gov­ern­ment will now of­fer each vil­lage that wants to copy the model 10,000 yuan an­nu­ally to sus­tain op­er­a­tions.

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