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Batteries for Flowers
Apart from being an environmental hazard, there is another reason for not throwing away used batteries: Shanghai residents can exchange two used batteries for one pot of flowers from now on.

The Shanghai Environment Protection Bureau kicked off the campaign on Saturday in 20 communities, when 200,000 used batteries were reclaimed and 100,000 pots of marigold, maidenhair and Chinese flowing crabapple (malus spectabilis) were given out.

"We call on local residents not to randomly throw away waste batteries, which can discharge poisonous chemicals that cause terrible diseases," said Hong Hao, bureau director.

Shanghai consumes 150 million batteries every year, but less than 10 percent of them are retrieved through 1,000 Shanghai Oriental book and newspaper booths.

Launched by the Shanghai Environment Protection Bureau and the Shanghai Gardening Administration Bureau and sponsored by local companies, the project will be conducted once or twice a month in local communities.

And already it is proving effective.

"I realize the serious potential perils of used batteries and will save them either to exchange for flowers or send them to book stands," said Li Deyao, a senior high school student of Xianxia Middle School, who turned in four batteries for two pots.

Hong said his bureau is searching for permanent sites for the activity and all retrieved used batteries will be buried with other hazardous wastes in Jiading District.

The bureau is also working on an efficient and reasonable charging system to deal with the high costs of treating hazardous wastes.

"I think consumers should share the cost of waste treatment," Hong suggested.

(eastday.com June 3, 2002)

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