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Public Concerns Grow as Garbage Piles Mount
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The bane of modern cities and an environmental nightmare - the garbage pile is growing, and so is public concern.


China's cities generate an average of 120 million tons of garbage annually, official figures show.


That figure is growing 8 percent annually.


While there are policies and measures in place to recycle and properly dispose of waste, a new survey has cast new light on garbage, and what people think of it.


Conducted by the China Youth Daily, the survey of 1,800 people found that 75 percent of people feared that one day the world will be buried under garbage because of increasing garbage rates.


Roughly 23 percent of people said garbage hills can be seen everywhere in the places they are living.


The survey also found that most people would like to contribute a bit more to protect the environment.


About 90 percent of people said they would like to buy environment-friendly and recyclable products event though they are considered more expensive.


A culture of "over-packaging" has largely contributed to the surge of daily garbage output, with about one third of garbage generated from packaging material.


Among the country's 660 big and medium-sized cities, about one third are surrounded by garbage dumps, figures from the Ministry of Construction show.


Beijing has 23 garbage disposal plants, including 13 sanitary landfill sites. The city generates 11,500 tons of domestic garbage daily and roughly 96 percent of them was "disposed harmlessly", according to Beijing Environment Protection Bureau.


However, up to 500 tons of garbage are dumped in suburban areas daily in the Chinese capital.


In other cities, the situation is worse. The countryside has become a dumping place for urban garbage.


"Farmers are the biggest victim to urban garbage, often dumped right near their homes," Wang Er, a netizen, said. "Some farmers have lived with garbage hills for years and can do nothing but tolerate it."


The country's disposal rate of urban garbage is roughly 60 percent, a big leap from the 11 percent in early 1990s.


However, only 20 percent of urban garbage was disposed harmlessly in the country through sanitary landfills, incineration and composting - a biological process in which organic waste is turned into humus like substance and returned to the soil.


By 2008, 98 percent of urban garbage in Beijing should be disposed harmlessly, according to the city's White Paper on Domestic Garbage Disposal, which was released as a guideline to reduction and reuse of urban waste and pollution-free disposal of domestic garbage.


(China Daily April 4, 2007)

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