Shanghai's Hongkou district has established an association focused on trash sorting as the city gears up to enforce its first regulation on domestic waste management.
The rule takes effect on July 1, to the applause of environmentalists and the green industry.
Organizers said the association-the Shanghai Hongkou New Fashion Garbage Classification Office-is the first social group of its kind in the city. It released a guide for promoting trash sorting in residential neighborhoods during its founding ceremony on Monday.
Tang Jiafu, deputy director of the city's greening and appearance bureau, which is responsible for guiding residents to sort their garbage, said educational materials have been compiled to teach people how to classify their garbage accurately. The bureau organized 12 training sessions for teachers, who will merge the information into their teaching.
"Garbage sorting should become fashionable in society, and I encourage everyone to participate in the initiative," said Ying Yong, Shanghai's mayor.
The city, which is home to 24 million residents and produces more than 9 million metric tons of domestic garbage every year, aims to have trash sorting programs in all of its residential neighborhoods by 2020.
The regulation approved by the city's legislative authority at the end of January emphasizes garbage classification, separate transportation and treatment.
The city has already launched pilot garbage sorting programs in six of its districts, and more than 3,300 recycling stations and 15 domestic waste treatment facilities are under construction, according to the municipal government.
On Monday, Li Qiang, Shanghai's Party secretary, visited the Aijian neighborhood in Changning, one of the pilot districts, to see how the implementation of the sorting program was coming along. He inspected a garbage transportation hub in Xuhui district and Pudong New Area's Laogang waste treatment center, which handles half the domestic waste produced in the city.
Li said ongoing efforts are needed to ensure the program's success, which will help make Shanghai cleaner and tidier, and a more pleasant place to live.
Kate Sogor, who organizes weekly events for a running group that picks up litter from the streets, said transforming the domestic waste management regulation into law shows that the government takes waste reduction and recycling seriously.
"Although it'll probably take a while to develop the habit of separating trash, this is great," she said. "This is how it starts."
Yang Yuanhui, East China regional manager of Beijing Goldenway Bio-tech Co, which converts kitchen waste to fertilizer, said Shanghai's new regulation will help companies like his cut costs and boost production.
He said many businesses in the sector face shortages and low-quality raw material, and he believes the new regulation will bring more well-sorted "wet garbage" for the company to process.
Cao Weiqiu, managing director of Shanghai Mu Yin Investment, which focuses on environmental projects, said recycling companies can convert almost all garbage back into useful resources and products.
The mandatory garbage classification regulation is good news for the industry, he said, because it requires government and public institutions to give priority to purchasing products made from recycled materials.
"In the next step, government should provide incentives to direct more capital and enterprises into the circular economy," Cao said.