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Challenges for China's Recycling Industry

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Towns and villages across China are facing the problem of mountains of rubbish. Experts say this waste material is one source of carbon emission in the country. CCTV reporter takes a look one small effort going on just outside Beijing to manage this problem.

On the outskirts of Beijing, the small neighborhood of Dongxiaokou is busy from dawn with the sound of trucks, motorbikes and bicycles bringing recyclable materials to sell at the recycling centres there.

Each day, hundreds of tons of rubbish, including plastic bottles, cans, waste metals, cardboard, and paper, are brought from the city's rubbish bins.

Rubbish collectors from across the city remove the recyclable material from dustbins, take it to Dongxiaokou and sell the plastics, paper or metals by weight.

One rubbish collector, Xu Chao from Henan Province, has been working at the site for five years. He says it provides him with a good income for his family, as well as helping the environment.

Xu said, "Absolutely, rubbish recycling is a good thing. If we didn't recycle it, it would pollute the environment and be a waste of resources. Besides, we can make our living out of it."

China, with 1.3 billion people, is on the fast track to becoming a majority urban society in the next five years. It's a major shift after thousands of years as a mainly rural society.

The development of a consumer society in China has created a new problem for China's rapidly growing cities. Experts say that waste management can play a key role in reducing carbon emissions.

Mao Da, Environmentalist on Waste Management, said, "If we treat rubbish properly, we can send a stronger signal to protect the environment and play a greater role in tackling the climate change problem."

By facing up to these challenges, China is offering an example of the problems that other developing economies will face as they grow richer and urbanize.

(CCTV December 18, 2009)