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Shanghai rubbish rules: New law sends Chinese city into frenzy

Jul. 4, 2019

Things often get heated when the local government brings in a new bin regime, but in Shanghai, strict new regulations have sent the city into a frenzy.

Since Monday, it's been mandatory for individuals and companies in the massive Chinese city to sort and recycle their household rubbish.

People who don't comply not only risk incurring heavy fines, but could potentially have their all-important social credit rating lowered, meaning they may lose out on certain economic or social privileges by not being "model citizens".

The plan is ambitious - Shanghai is the largest and most populous city in the world, with more than 24 million residents - three times the size of London or New York. And according to some reports, only 10% of its waste is recycled. Official statistics show that only 3,300 tonnes of recyclables are collected daily, compared to the 19,300 tonnes of residual waste and 5,000 tonnes of kitchen waste that are collected.

So the tough legislation could set a precedent for other cities as they encourage people to be more environmentally friendly.

How does the new rubbish regime work?

Shanghai is China's most trash-generating city. It produces nine million tonnes a yearaccording to the official Xinhua News Agency.

Waste now has to be divided into four types:

  • recyclable goods such as bottles and cans
  • harmful waste like batteries and medicines
  • kitchen waste, predominantly types of food
  • other waste, such as bathroom products

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