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Saving The Environment, One Recycler at a Time

The State Economic and Trade Commission is formulating a series of eco-friendly measures on the treatment of waste materials to protect the environment and contribute to sustainable development, officials said Thursday.

The commission is drafting rules to recycle worn-out electrical household appliances, used tires and dead batteries. They are also soliciting opinions from experts and consumers to improve China's materials recycling system, said division director Zhou Changyi from the Department of Energy Conservation and Resources Utilization.

Zhou said the proper handling of waste materials, such as reusing or disposing of them properly, constitutes an important part of the country's efforts to preserve energy and protect the environment.

As the world's top consumer of electrical household appliances, China has at least 120 million refrigerators, 170 million washing machines, 400 million TV sets and 16 million computers in use, said Zhang Youliang of the China Household Electrical Appliance Institute.

It is estimated that up to 4 million refrigerators, 5 million washing machines and 5 million TV sets will be discarded every year from now on, said Zhou.

Lack of a recycling system in this field has resulted in loopholes in home safety, energy waste and environmental pollution, as electrical appliances are either being used beyond their expiration or randomly abandoned, he said.

"It has taken a long time even for some developed countries to charge fees for those who junk used electrical appliances," Zhou said. "As a developing country, China will work out policies and measures that encourage the prompt recycling of unwanted electrical household appliances."

Similar endeavors will be made for the treatment of discarded steel and iron, non-ferrous metals, plastics, rubber, paper, glass, used tires and dead batteries, he said.

More than 5,000 enterprises are engaged in the recycling and reuse of waste materials, but lack of management statute has caused some chaos in the waste material recycling industry, he said.

Zhou also said it is expected to be mandatory for car owners to retread waste tires, to reduce pollution.

Rules for electrical household appliances, used tires, dead batteries and other major solid wastes will be hammered out by the end of this year. The commission welcomes proposals from anyone, he added.

(China Daily May 17, 2002)

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