Saturday, September 18, 2010

Deodorant Cannons Used in Garbage Dumps

China has an immense problem with garbage. To be more exact, the problem lies with their inability to dispose of the massive amounts garbage generated every day by a consumer-oriented society. In short, the cities are ill-equipped to handle the garbage generated. With sanitation procedures woefully lacking, the general population has taken matters into their own hands; and, their disposal techniques are causing another huge problem - unhealthy conditions where various diseases breed unchecked.

The above video shows the measures being taken at a large garbage dump in Beijing; however, the following pictures and story show the real extent of the problem.

Xiaotangshan town, Changping district: Human excrement collected from planes, trains, and long-distance buses is dumped here in big plastic bags. Because there is no convenient way to get rid of the waste - aside from the small quantity that farmers take for fertilisers - large quantities are being dumped in landfill along with the rest of the garbage.

Beijing is to install 100 deodorant guns at a stinking landfill site on the edge of the city in a bid to dampen complaints about the capital's rubbish crisis.

The giant fragrance sprays will be put in place by May at the Asuwei dump site, one of several hundred tips that are the focus of growing public concerns about sanitation, environmental health and a runaway consumer culture.

Municipal authorities say they will also apply more plastic layers to cover the site in response to furious protests by local residents who have to put up with the stench when the wind blows in their direction.

The high-pressure guns, which can spray dozens of litres of fragrance per minute over a distance of up to 50m, are produced by several Chinese firms and based on German and Italian technology. They are already in use at several landfill sites, but they are merely a temporary fix.

Beijing's waste problem - and China's - is expanding as fast as its economy, at about 8% each year. With millions more people now able to afford Starbucks, McDonald's, Kentucky Fried Chicken and other elements of a western, throwaway lifestyle, the landfill sites and illegal tips that ring the capital are close to overflowing.

According to the local government, the city of 17m people generates 18,000 tonnes of waste every day - 7,000 tonnes more than the capacity of municipal disposal plants.

"All landfill and treatment sites in Beijing will be full in four years. That's how long it takes to build a treatment plant. So we need to act right now to resolve the issue," said Wang Weiping, a waste expert in the city government. "It's necessary to restructure the current disposal system. We cannot rely on landfill anymore. It's a waste of space."

Less than 4% of Beijing's rubbish is recycled – the UK recycles 35% – but is still near the bottom of the EU recycling league. Two per cent of Beijing's rubbish is burned but the rest is dumped in landfill sites, which cover an area of 333,000 sq m. Cities throughout the country face a similar problem.

There are more than 200 legal and illegal sites around Beijing, according to Wang Jiuliang, a photographer who has spent the past year recording and plotting the wastelands using GPS systems and Google Earth.

Changxindian, Fengtai district: A shanty town for migrant workers built on a landfill. At its height, the site attracted more than 2,000 migrant workers from the most populous provinces including Sichuan, Henan and Anhui.

Together, they form what he calls "Beijing's seventh ring", where the city meets the countryside with smart new ring roads, expensive housing complexes and the detritus of consumer culture.

"People are forced to use these places for dumps and landfills. There is no better place," he says. "China has become a consumer society over the past 10 or 20 years. The authorities are working hard to solve the garbage problem, but it has emerged too quickly."

Environment authorities in cities throughout the country are struggling to keep pace with this burgeoning problem. According to the government, about 20m tonnes of urban garbage went unhandled in 2008.

They want to deal with the waste by burning it. But government plans to build 82 incinerators between 2006 and 2010 have encountered an increasingly hostile "not-in-my-backyard" movement.

According to Chinese media reports, at least six incinerator projects have been put on hold due to public opposition, including Panyu in Guangdong province, Jiangqiao in Shanghai, and Liulitun and Asuwei in Beijing.

The number of rubbish-related public complaints in Beijing increased by 57% last year, according to the Municipal Petition Office. Many residents have safety fears about incineration facilities despite reassurances by the government.

Yongshun town, Tongzhou district:
This landfill is located in between Chaoyang and Tongzhou districts of Beijing. In the distance: upscale condos and high-rises. In the foreground: human excrement dumped at the site.

In an attempt to win public confidence, the managers of a new 800m yuan ($1,198,053.56 USD)incinerator in Gao'antun set up a giant display screen earlier this month that contains real-time data on emissions of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide.

But it continues to raise concerns because there are no figures for dioxins - the toxins released during the burning of plastic and other synthetic materials. The plant has had to scale back operations in the face of public opposition.

In the longer term, the government plans massive investment and new legislation to double the capacity of waste disposal facilities, increase the incineration rate to 40% and to cut the growth in the volume of rubbish to zero by 2015 through recycling.

There is a long way to go. Currently, even when waste is separated by schools and companies, it is often just crammed back together by refuse collectors. A Beijing News report last month noted that distribution and disposal plants are not designed to deal with separated waste.

"We just compress, pack and then bury everything directly," said staff from Mentougou district waste transfer station.

Efforts to promote recycling have a long way to go. Public litter bins offer two options - marked recyclable and non-recyclable - but few people are aware of the distinction because there has not been an adequate public education campaign.

"I am willing to take time and money to separate and recycle my rubbish, but there's just no such system here," said Beijing resident Cui Zheng.

Please visit this site for more pictures. The landfill sites circling Beijing have been documented by Wang Jiuliang in his photo essay, A City Beseiged by Waste. The photographer won the gold award for outstanding artist of the year at the 2009 Lianzhou International Photography Festival for this work.

1 comment:

Dumpster Rental NYC said...

Do they realize what this is going to do to the actual environment? Think about the fact that all of that is forever also floating up through the ozone layer and destroying our only protection from the sun. All due to a smell.

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