EYESHENZHEN  /   Opinion

A milestone in SZ's green endeavor

Writer: Lin Min  |  Editor: Jane Chen  |  From: Shenzhen Daily  |  Updated: 2020-07-13

After months of trial and preparation, Shenzhen will implement its garbage classification regulations on Sept. 1, a milestone in the city's continuing efforts towards sustainability.

The regulations set a fine between 50 and 200 yuan (US$7.14-28.57) on any individual who fails to classify garbage, and a hefty penalty between 50,000 and 500,000 yuan on any company or institution that is found to not dispose of or transport waste according to the regulations.

As we all know, the ever-increasing amounts of garbage, from the growing population, a modern city lifestyle and the e-commerce boom, have made the landfilling of waste unsustainable, and the reduction and recycling of it imperative.

Shenzhen has been deploying supervisors to help residents classify garbage and dispose of it properly at more than 3,000 housing estates across the city, paving the way for the smooth implementation of the garbage classification regulations.

Successful enforcement of the classification rules will further cement Shenzhen's achievements in improving the environment. The blue skies and cleaner rivers and lakes have become something Shenzheners can be proud of, after great efforts were made to tackle smoggy air and filthy water, which had resulted from the city's breakneck industrialization speed in its early development stages.

Still, to achieve optimal results, the city needs to devote a lot of resources to enforce the regulations and educate every resident on the detailed sorting and disposal requirements.

The sheer numbers of products we consume in our daily life mean it would not be an easy task to properly classify household waste. Residents need to know not only what is recyclable garbage and kitchen waste, but also how to identify harmful waste. Failures to do so and placing hazardous waste in "other waste" bins will render the classification efforts much less effective. It requires widely available training and public education campaigns for citizens to do it correctly and efficiently.

Providing adequate incinerating and recycling capacities is of no less importance than proper classification by residents. The city has so far built four large kitchen waste processing plants, 16 discarded furniture disposal and recycling facilities and nine old clothing recycling factories. More such facilities should be built by private enterprises, State-owned companies or through public-private partnerships (PPP), as the existing facilities appear inadequate for dealing with the massive waste in a city of about 20 million people.

There should be more investment in green technologies by the government, private sector and individuals. Around the world, there is a trend that wealthy people, in addition to governments and companies, are increasing investment in environmentally conscious businesses. According to consulting firm Capgemini's World Wealth Report 2020, wealthy investors plan to allocate 41 percent of their portfolio to businesses actively pursuing environmental, social and corporate governance policies by the end of the year. By the end of 2021, that figure is set to rise to 46 percent, according to the report.

In a sense, the coronavirus attack serves as a wake-up call for human beings to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle and economy. Our efforts of reviving the economy hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic should be centered on green jobs and technologies.

Shenzhen has been supporting sustainable industries, such as new energy vehicles, renewable and intelligent energy and recycling of resources, with subsidies of up to 30 million yuan for each eligible project. Companies that support the garbage classification efforts, treat toxic waste and recycle waste intensively should receive greater support in funding, taxation and land use as we officially enter the era of garbage classification.

(The author is a deputy editor-in-chief of Shenzhen Daily.)