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Around China: Awards promote waste classification


11:20, July 21, 2013

HANGZHOU, July 21 (Xinhua) -- While extreme cases have seen Chinese teens illegally sell their kidneys for an iPhone, Wang Jie, a resident of Hangzhou, capital of east China's Zhejiang Province, found an easier way to get one of the must-have devices.

Wang, a senior student of Zhejiang University of Technology, won an iPhone 5 earlier this month for sorting garbage.

At the end of March, a waste classification program was launched in three residential communities in Xiacheng District in Hangzhou. Residents amass credit, redeemable for prizes, for sorting garbage into different categories before disposing of it in their communities.

The resident who gains the most points in a quarter is rewarded an iPhone 5, and whoever accumulates the most points in the year will win use of a vehicle for five years, said Sun Liping, director of the office which administrates Wang's community.

Sun introduced the scheme whereby an intelligent recycling platform registers the type of garbage a resident has and dispenses printed bar codes to stick to the bags of junk. When workers scan the bar codes while disposing of the bags, points are recorded on the residents' bank cards.

Wang got more than 150,000 points through classifying garbage in the past three months, and he said his secret was to collect electronic trash like scrap computer mice, USB flash drives and cell phone batteries, which are worth many more points than any other household waste.

According to the requirements, a one-kg glass bottle can redeem 20 points, but a mobile charger or an abandoned USB flash drive gets 1,350 points.

"This method is aimed at raising people's consciousness of waste classification and encouraging more residents to sort waste when they are otherwise apt to throw it away without classification," Sun said, adding that the awarding of especially high points for electronics is because this waste can cause heavy pollution, a fact that people often overlook.

Monitoring data shows that the reward mechanism has been welcomed by residents, and people have liked participating in this activity, according to Wu Bingxin, the inventor of the intelligent recycling platform.

More than 300 households have participated in the program so far, and the number of points amassed throughout the three communities has surpassed 1.5 million, Wu said, adding authorities will explore more ways to redeem the credit, which could attract more people to take part.

Although China has carried out waste classification for more than 10 years, it has not been widely accepted across the country. This new incentives mechanism has real potential to raise environmental awareness and initiative.

"Rubbish disposal is not only a duty of environmental departments or government, it also needs residents' support and participation," Sun said.

In Beijing, two communities, Lvjingxinyuan and Lvjingyuan, were chosen as trial communities to carry out a similar reward scheme from June. Every 50 points can redeem a coupon worth 10 yuan.

Retirees, parents, white-collar workers, as well as children in Lvjingxinyuan and Lvjingyuan have participated in the activity.

The new mechanism is expected to be adopted in other parts of the country if it is well received.

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