MILAN, Sep 26 (Class Editori) - One of the areas of commitment in the fight against climate change, and more generally on the environmental issue, at the center of global attention in these days with the numerous youth events and at the head of the summit underway in New York under the auspices of the United Nations, is the collection and treatment of civil waste.
In Shanghai, since July 1, the issue has been addressed in a determined, strict way, with rules to differentiate daily collection in a city of 25 million inhabitants.
In the months preceding the entry into force of the new city regulation, an awareness program was organized by the Municipality of Shanghai in the various districts, aimed at the various subjects that produce waste, organizations and public institutions, therefore schools and hospitals, private office buildings, shopping mall and representatives of private households who live in compound residential structures.
The compound is one of the old housing models in Shanghai, still existing in some areas of the city where the Sikumen rises, born after the Opium War in 1853 and consisting of a series of apartments included in a cluster with common spaces, a sort of phalanstery.
As regards the old residential settlements, the management responsibility is entrusted to persons delegated by the district to which they belong; as new settlements, management is carried out by companies. For these different categories the responsibility is collective and not only individual, and it is joined by volunteers, generally elderly, who monitor the recycling centers.
In short, there is no direct family contribution, but the action is collective with the passage of trucks with different functions, for example those with the words Waste Food Restaurant.
Alongside the awareness program, a punitive deterrent has been decided that can reach up to 6,500 euros for those in charge of the compounds or buildings and is, instead, light, about 25 euros, for individual responsibilities. The sanctioning activity was confirmed by the inspections carried out by the approximately 18,000 persons appointed by the administration, who verified 872 certified violations. Inspections have also been carried out at waste transport companies which, as is also the case in Italy, bestow the different types in a single truck.
The Shanghai Municipality, where 9 million tons of civil waste was produced in 2018, has classified the collection into four categories: recyclable waste, wet waste, hazardous waste and residual waste. With the new course, the production of residual waste amounts to 15,500 tons per day with a decrease of 26% while recyclable waste is worth 4,500 tons per day with an increase five times higher than last year.
Today, with the separate waste collection at the Tienma center, two thousand tons a day are processed with a production of electricity of 160,000 kw per hour, sufficient to feed the daily consumption of 160,000 families. Wet waste is worth 9,200 tons per day.
Hotels as well are carrying out actions to raise awareness and reduce the consumption of single-use bathroom sets, savings 30% to date.
The main issues related to this recent city revolution are food & beverage and e-commerce deliveries. The phenomenon of home deliveries, or coffee (Luckin) or meals, whose value is based on the timeliness of deliveries, has drew attention to the delivery terms, that is the packaging system. Now the problem is essential. Packaging is also relates to the e-commerce area.
Last year, 50 billion packages were delivered to China. That is more than 50% of the total in the world. This year it should be close to 60 billion. The State Post Bureau has recommended that at least 70% of the packages, by the end of this year, is made of recyclable material. However, estimates foresee that only a 44% will be.
The separate collection of waste is an important aspect to defend the environment, which includes other issues that affect the industrial and civil development.
China has achieved significant progress in the field of renewables by investing over 125 billion dollars in the green economy since 2017. And in the thirteenth five-year plan (2016 -2020) it has already exceeded the 3% target for the 15% reduction in traditional energy. The country is also a leader in the use of electric buses (18% of the total).
Regarding the plastic processing waste, since the beginning of the year the government has banned the import of these materials to be reworked creating an emergency situation in other countries. Also with regard to the hard coal the goal is to prohibit its use but the cost differential of extraction means that it is still used.
However, in some provinces the level of harmful emissions and undifferentiated waste production is still high and the pilot example of separate waste collection in Shanghai with some other attempts in other cities solves only a small part of the existing situation.
During a recent event at the port of Shanghai, Jiang Mingbao, chief engineering of the Ministry of Transport recalled in his speech that President Xi Jinping at the Agriculture Exibition last March in Beijing had highlighted one of his five development paradigms that contemplates "the harmonious coexistence between man and environment".
Italy has a lot to give in technological terms for the waste management and, to this end, the Chinese Government signed protocols of intervention and support.
And yet, as Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Powers wrote in the book The Overstory "modern humans have been in the world for two hundred thousand years, and the next fifty years seem rather uncertain. Trees, on the other hand, exists since two thousand years more than that of man, and during that time span of four million years they have survived numerous mass extinctions. Let's suppose, as Thoreau said, that we remember how to breathe air, drink water, taste fruits, live each passing season and resign ourselves to the influence of the Earth".
*edited by Marco Leporati, Managing Director at Savino Del Bene – transport and logistics company. He lives and works in China since over 25 years.
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