China Focus: Market warms up for China's trash sorting buzz
SHANGHAI, July 16 (Xinhua) -- Where there is demand there will be supply. In China, it took no time at all for businesspeople to come up with products and services to cater to the new trend of family garbage sorting.
On July 1, Shanghai began enforcing a mandatory garbage sorting system that requires residents to sort garbage into four categories and dispose of it at a fixed time and place. The prospect of introducing the system to other cities has made trash sorting a nationwide buzzword.
The daunting task of classifying the motley waste produced by kitchens, for instance, has brought about booming sales of waste crushers, once considered a niche product.
According to big data tracker and analyzer ECdataway, a total of 7,830 kitchen waste crushers were sold in May on Tmall.com, a popular online marketplace in China, and the number jumped to 23,076 in June, up 195 percent.
"Bought one to welcome the new era of garbage sorting in Shanghai," said one remark on the page of a branded crusher priced at 2,699 yuan (about 392 U.S. dollars).
Other daily necessity markets are also jumping on the garbage sorting bandwagon.
On Tmall.com, sales of household sorted trash bins surged by more than 500 percent in June from a year ago. In some online stores, conventional black garbage bags have been replaced with those marked with different colors to facilitate sorting.
New services are also coming in handy by sending helpers to customers' doorsteps to assist in sorting.
Li, who lives in Shanghai's Minhang District, is planning a change of apartment. She took a photo of her old clothes and made a collection reservation on Alipay, a mobile payment app. Three hours later, Wang Haohui, an online garbage collector, arrived to collect the garments.
"On the one hand, I cannot just throw my clothes away due to the regulations on garbage sorting. On the other hand, these clothes are very heavy," she said.
Apart from used clothes, the app allows for door-to-door collection of a number of recyclables from electrical appliances to old furniture. While old clothes of low value can be exchanged for household necessities, more expensive items can be traded for cash.
"Now I receive 20 orders a day," said the collector Wang. "After the door-to-door collection, I need to carefully select and classify the items and send them to different factories for recycling."
According to Alipay, its online garbage recycling platform is currently available in more than 5,000 neighborhoods in Shanghai and will soon open its service in the cities of Wuhan, Beijing and Suzhou. Among its users, 70 percent are under 35.
"People are paying more attention to garbage sorting and making it part of their lives," said Zhu Chunyong, city service manager of Alipay.
China plans to establish garbage sorting systems in 46 major cities by the end of 2020 and expand it to cover all cities at the prefecture level and above by 2025. It is considered a crucial measure to help China win the war on a growing mountain of garbage and establish a circular economy.
Experts said China needs improvements on both ends of the garbage disposal chain, which can be achieved by enforcing stricter household sorting and by investing in better incinerators and recycling plants.
China's Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development said the 46 cities are establishing a comprehensive system of garbage sorting, collection, transport and processing. Moreover, an investment of 21.3 billion yuan will be allocated to speed up building the recycling system.