Cross-strait environmental and sustainable development forum Ⅱ
Chen Juei-ping (Secretary-general , Taiwan Environmental Information Association): Now we would like to invite Miss Sunny Sun, with the Beijing Green Cross, to talk about China’s waste management situation.
Sunny Sun (Project manager, Green Cross): China is presently producing approximately 150 million tons of trash annually, which is a fourth of total global trash output. Two-thirds of China’s 668 cities are besieged by trash. Taking Beijing as an example, the city produces 15,000 tons of trash a day; the yearly accumulation of so much trash is the equivalent of five Jinshans, the mountain behind the Imperial Palace and Forbidden City. Every day 500 trucks take trash outside the city for handling. The transportation costs for hauling trash is about 2.37 million yuan per day, which is 865 million yuan a year -- a truly astonishing amount.
Sixty-eight percent of all this trash is recyclable; the value of the recyclables here is 250 billion yuan. This number shows that the value of trash resources is quite substantial. But recycling efforts in China leave much to be desired, as presently there is no trash separation before collection. We have three types of collection methods in place right now. The first is that people can place containers in designated places where environmental sanitation workers can pick them up every day and take them to recycling stations. Recycling stations also have workers who go to communities, pick up recyclables and take them back. The final way we deal with the problem now is through trash portals. These portals are built into new residences, with residents from each floor throwing their trash down the same portal, saving sanitation workers the trouble of climbing up all those flights of stairs; they can just collect all the trash from the lowest floor. The problem is that these portals are a source of germs and bacteria. We found after the SARS epidemic in 2003 that these trash portals were hazardous to health, so they were closed.
Lin Chun-chao (Associate researcher, Institute of Environment and Resource): The important thing now is finding ways to extend the responsibilities of manufacturers. The government needs to propose key policy changes along these lines, as finding the source is an important part of resolving waste problems. When manufacturers are made to recycle their own waste materials, they will consider more carefully how to design their packaging.
Liu Mei-li (Director,Taichung District Office of Homemakers’ Union and Foundation): The year after the Homemaker’s Union and Foundation was founded in 1987, we opened a Taichung branch. The branch was called the Taichung Workshop up until 2004, when the name was officially changed to the Taichung Foundation Administrative Office.
The Homemaker’s Union and Foundation has marched, paid official visits and held press conferences to let public officials know of our positions and demands. We have also taken part in government-held meetings and activities, as well as sponsoring some of our own government-subsidized events.
We have a very close working relationship with the Taichung City Environmental Protection Bureau. In the past two mayoral elections in Taichung, we handled collecting signatures for environmental policy initiatives. When the mayor himself signed, he promised to give explanatory speeches each year regarding the details of the environmental initiatives, which has given us a bridge into the governmental sector for this important matter. Whenever we are at odds with the government over certain policy or cooperative methods, we usually continue to discuss the matter, find more adequate information and then further interact with government officials. Sometimes we act independently on environmental matters without seeking governmental cooperation, such as enforcing trash separation or limiting the sea of harmful plastics. We pursued these initiatives on our own at a much earlier date.
The mothers in our Homemaker’s Union and Foundation do not consider ourselves to be experts or scholars; we look to tackle problems we see around us in our everyday lives. Whenever we see a situation we are not happy with, we discuss it and then put a plan into action to fix it. We also offer many personal growth courses that allow everyone to get together and learn from each other.