Burn Plastic for More Space

At night, the streets are usually filled with people having dinner at the street food vendors and restaurants. There’s a lack of garbage bins and the ones that do exist are usually filled quickly. This causes most of the trash to end up on the sidewalks and streets. In the morning, this is cleaned up by a dozen or so street cleaners. Each of them carries a large broom sweeping up the trash from the previous night. The pile of trash is then gathered up in several areas of the street and everything from plastic bottles, bags, leaves, and paper. After everything has been gathered up, it’s burned right on the streets. Every morning, there’s the same scent on the streets outside from the burning smell.

The smell is intoxicating. I’m always putting my mouth on  my sleeve while I pass the smoke. The piles are always on the same spot as it was the night before adding more to the ashes. Besides the obvious of being harmful to the environment, it is harmful to our health. China has a growing issue of producing toxic emissions, from dioxin to mercury. These can travel across the globe causing a global issue. This doesn’t include the number of factory incinerators in China either.

Why are they doing this?

The New York Times published an article over a year ago with the same concern. China is now the world’s largest producer of household garbage. Makes sense with over 1.4 billion people. This is creating issues in having enough landfill space. According to that article, landfills would run out of space in China in just five years unless they make alternatives hence the action of building more incinerators. The garbage picked up on the streets in my town doesn’t even make it to the landfill or incinerators because it costs money to even have someone pick up the trash to bring it anywhere else. Only other option is self burning it. I’ve seen the same in other cities in China.

In my opinion, China seems to be on track for an economy of doing things that work in the present but take no regard for the future. They are striving by building for what makes them strong right now and disregarding the future. China does have issues that no other nation needs to worry about though. This is a country with thousands of years of history with a population bigger than anyone else has. Will this get better or worse? I’m hoping better.

Michael Tieso

Michael Tieso travels around the world writing, photographing, and filming his adventures. He is the Editor-in-chief of Art of Adventuring.
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