Guangzhou’s Real-name Garbage Collection Rules

July 4, 2012

Seems like all these “real name” policies we’ve seen over the past couple of years, from BBS comments to microblogs to train tickets, have given policymakers some ideas. If it’s good enough for train travel, why not another public service?

Like garbage collection and recycling. Seriously.

The waste management bureau of Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, is planning to implement a user-pay system of garbage collection that will see residents dispose of their refuge in garbage bags bearing their family name.

Um, yeah. The spirit of all this is laudable. Let’s get folks to sort their trash, clean up the environment, etc. I’m down with that. But there’s a reason why this kind of thing works in Japan — folks there follow the rules.

In China, eh, not so much. This new policy is going to crash and burn:

The city government’s website offers few details on the new household trash collection plan, nor does it provide many specific details on how the plan is expected to work.

City officials in Guangzhou say their new garbage collection plan will be backed by laws and regulations.

Probably a good reason for that lack of detail. Like they have no idea. We’ve got a lot of rules in this country about other things too, like food safety and corruption. ‘Nuff said about that.

Guangzhou residents in the pilot neighborhood will likely have to change the way they dispose of their garbage and more than a few locals seem bewildered by the pending changes. A college student from South China Normal University doubts the new system will work well. “People will worry about their privacy if their real name is put on their garbage bags, they’ll just throw their garbage somewhere else.”

Totally agree with that. Lots of folks here (don’t know about Guangzhou) won’t even throw an envelope or empty box in the trash that has their name/address on it. This predilection towards personal data security paranoia doesn’t bode well for this garbage policy. I think Guangzhou is going to be seeing a lot of unauthorized, anonymous dumping in the future.

One thought on “Guangzhou’s Real-name Garbage Collection Rules

  1. Francisca

    Another example of well-meaning and misguided city action. What’s sorely missing from this equation is awareness-raising and community buy-in. Folks may be hyper privacy conscious, but they have little understanding for the need to segregate garbage. For pete’s sake, people rarely even use garbage cans in public spaces (yet). But perhaps a bigger question for me is, what happens after this segregated garbage is collected? Are systems in place to divert the waste to recycling centers?