Megacities in China have enacted laws to encourage citizens to recycle, and waste sorting is soon to be compulsory in many Chinese cities.
Shanghai passed a law on household garbage control in January. The law, to come into effect on July 1, clearly defines four types of household waste, namely recyclable, hazardous, dry and wet waste.
Anyone who mixes garbage will be liable to a maximum fine of 200 yuan, and companies that break the law may face a maximum penalty of 50,000 yuan.
Beijing adopted new garbage sorting regulations in March 2012. This May, the city made several amendments to the law, punishing violations of garbage classification regulations.
Wu Xiangyang, an associate researcher at the Beijing Academy of Social Sciences, said that garbage classification in Beijing didn’t reach satisfactory results in the past, mostly because of the lack of legislative force. Now that anyone who disobeys the rules could face a penalty, more people will voluntarily sort out their own waste.
The law stipulates that schools, hospitals, office buildings and hotels in Beijing have to sort out waste; if not, they will be punished. In the future, the regulation will also be applied to residents, said Wu.
Starting from 2019, the garbage classification campaign will begin in county-level cities and above. By the end of 2025, all county-level cities and above will have developed a waste sorting system, according to relevant legal provisions.
To achieve this goal, it is essential for megacities to set a good example. However, megacities are still faced with challenges in garbage classification, such as residents’ reluctance to participate in garbage classification and relatively weak classification processing capabilities.
“Behavior is what matters most. Compulsory classification is the first step towards dealing with the problem. Of course, supervision and punishment are also necessary,” Wu said.