Living with China's new household waste rules
Elizabeth Mearns

In this section of CGTN's #ZeroWasteChallenge, we asked our four volunteers from four continents to examine their waste production at home. Yang Xinmeng reports from China.




China's success at pulling people out of poverty is well documented, but such endeavors around the world have a potential downside: The more money humans have, the more things they tend to buy. 

"Dealing with the growing volumes of waste from our increased consumption is one of the biggest challenges facing China's regulators," says Yang Xinmeng, our #ZeroWasteChallenge volunteer in Beijing. 

As a frequent traveler for work, Yang makes little waste – "I have no trash in my bin at all at the moment" – but she investigated her apartment community's waste system for us.



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China introduced new trash-sorting regulations in 2019 and wants to make recycling mandatory for nearly 300 cities by 2025. "You can see trash-sorting bins everywhere in major cities," says Yang. "With rising urban populations consuming an increasing amount of consumer goods and major cities still using landfill to dispose of waste, trash has a big carbon footprint."

She takes us through the different types of bins – green for food, red for hazardous waste "like used batteries, light bulbs, expired medicines or paint," blue for recyclables such as paper, plastics and glass, and black for the rest.

It's a model that Yang, who travels around China for her job, has seen working well in various places – and among various generations. "My community in Beijing is quite young, but recently I saw some communities where the older generation live and they're also sorting their trash."

Supervisors have been hired to help people avoid confusion. "When the policy was first implemented, there were people standing beside every day to tell you how to sort your trash – if you did something wrong, she would come to correct you," she says. 

For all the increasing ease of waste sorting, though, Yang shares a concern with our London correspondent Francesca Della Penna: "In my community, we all pay the same bill regardless of the amount of waste we produce and the charge is included in our rent – so I myself have little incentive to minimize my waste."


This story is part of CGTN's #ZeroWasteChallenge as four people on four continents reveal how sustainable their country's culture is.

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