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Beijing's trash heaps keep growing
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The amount of waste generated in Beijing is growing every year and would soon be unmanageable, Chen Yong, director of the city's municipal administration commission, said.

"Beijing will face a 'garbage crisis' soon as its current waste disposal capacity cannot meet the growing amount of trash," said Chen in a program of the Beijing People's Broadcasting Station on Sunday.

Beijing currently generates 18,400 tons of garbage every day when it can dispose of only 10,400 tons. The city's waste is growing by 8 percent annually, commission figures showed.

"Beijing had a crisis in the 1980s when it was surrounded by garbage. Judging from the current situation, it will soon have another one," Chen said.

The capital currently has 23 garbage-processing plants, including 13 sanitary landfill plants, one compost plant, three integrated garbage treatment plants and six garbage transfer stations, Guo Weidong, publicity division head of the commission, told China Daily yesterday.

Ninety percent of Beijing's urban garbage is disposed through the sanitary landfill plants, 8 percent by composting and 2 percent through incineration, commission statistics showed.

Referring to complaints by residents living near the landfills, Chen said it was "very difficult to control the pollution caused by the garbage". The authorities plan to build five household garbage incineration plants, eight integrated garbage treatment plants and 40 household garbage transfer stations or facilities by 2012. Five large plants to dispose of restaurant and kitchen garbage, and promote garbage classification, would be built as well.

"The most important and tough task is to minimize the garbage output from the origin," Chen said. "The administration commission, the residents and manufacturers must stand together to face the crisis and solve the problems." Media reported China generated an estimated 280 million tons of garbage annually, most of which went into landfills. Mountains of garbage cause major environmental pollution and occupy large areas of land. One third of China's 660 big and medium-sized cities are surrounded by garbage dumps, figures from the Ministry of Construction show.

The country's disposal rate of urban garbage is roughly 60 percent, a big leap from 11 percent in the early 1990s. However, only 20 percent of urban garbage is disposed of harmlessly in the country.

Zhu Yonggong, vice-director of the institute of urban environment affiliated to the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told China Daily yesterday: "Many Chinese cities have been plagued with the garbage problem", advocating increased spending on scientific research of urban garbage distribution and treatment techniques.

"Where there are people, there is garbage. But residents should foster sustainable consumption to minimize the trash," he said.

Zhao Ailing, a 53-year-old housewife in Beijing, said: "I store empty beverage bottles and waste newspapers at home and have no leftovers. I just want to contribute to protect the environment. Young people should have a more frugal lifestyle to reduce the growing waste pollution."

(China Daily March 10, 2009)

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