The Nanfang / Blog

Chinese Tourists Are Tossing Their Garbage Into South Korean Mailboxes

Posted: 01/16/2015 10:00 am
korean mailbox

Written in Chinese: “This is not a garbage can.”

It’s always hard to fault someone for having good intentions, and there aren’t many other groups as derided as Chinese tourists when traveling abroad. But even when they try and do the right thing, sometimes it’s completely wrong.

This is the case in South Korea where a newspaper is reporting that Chinese tourists visiting Seoul are in the habit of mistakenly disposing their garbage into the capital’s mailboxes.

The Korean Daily reported on January 9 that the problem has gotten so bad that mailboxes located in front of the Lotte Department Store need to clean out 10 liters worth of garbage every week. Over at the entrance to East Peace Gate Plaza, the situation is less severe, with two to three liters of garbage every week piling up.

While this could be an honest mistake made by any foreign visitor to South Korea, it looks to be a particularly Chinese problem. The trash includes cigarette butts, orange peels, and opened sunflower seeds which are commonly associated with Chinese tourists.

As embarrassing as this may be, a Chinese report explains Chinese tourists may not totally be at fault. It says there is a lack of proper signage for Chinese tourists and few public garbage cans in South Korea. In fact, South Koreans are in the habit of taking their garbage home with them, or giving it to a shop or restaurant.

The Chinese report further explains that the situation in South Korea isn’t so strange since garbage cans are rare throughout many Asian countries. Lan Jianzhong, a Xinhua reporter in Tokyo, said there are no garbage cans on the streets and in parks of Japan. Chen Jipeng, a Xinhua reporter in Singapore, said garbage cans are rare in subways, carriages or on public transportation throughout the city-state.

Public garbage cans became hard to find in the 1990s in Korea after the government implemented a restrictive garbage policy to reduce garbage production. While some still argue that garbage cans are hard to find in Seoul, public trash receptacles are actually making a comeback. Just last August, the municipal government agreed to add 1,000 more public trash cans to the city in response to the high use of disposable coffee cups. This stands in addition to the 4,400 trash bins already in place throughout the city.

If you’ve never seen one before, this is what a public trash bin in South Korea looks like:

korean garbage cankorean garbage cankorean garbage binPhoto: Shenzhen Police,, thatbackpacker, blog korea


30 Years Worth of Garbage in Massive 9-Story Pile May Finally Be Dealt With

Posted: 08/11/2014 6:40 pm

shijiazhuang garbage pile hubei pollutionChina has enjoyed a tumultuous 30 years of progress, but with a stronger economy comes the by-product of a growing consumer society: a lot of garbage.

In Shijiazhuang, the capital of Hubei Province, the Baifo Village committee has finally decided to do something about the mountain of garbage located at Huanghe Avenue and Zhufeng Boulevard. The mountain of garbage is 30 meters high and is the result of garbage accumulated over 30 years. It’s about the same height as an eight or nine story building.

shijiazhuang garbage pile hubei pollution

While there is now interest in finally dealing with the mound of garbage, it won’t come cheap. The government of Chang’an District and the Tangu sub-district office have calculated the cost of completely removing the garbage at RMB 30 million.

One would think nobody would want to live anywhere near this presumably stinky pile of garbage, but no protests have been reported so far. That’s in stark contrast to Guangdong, where garbage dumps have seen increasing opposition from residents.

Environmental issues have become the leading cause of social unrest in China, replacing land disputes, Bloomberg has reported. And it’s a problem that is only increasing in scope: every year as China creates more than 360 million tons of waste annually, an amount that grows by 8% each year, reported China Dialogue.

shijiazhuang garbage pile hubei pollutionshijiazhuang garbage pile hubei pollutionshijiazhuang garbage pile hubei pollutionshijiazhuang garbage pile hubei pollution


Photos: China News


No More Free Toothbrushes and Other Toiletries at Guangzhou Hotels

Posted: 07/17/2014 2:28 pm

hotel disposable itemsFree slippers, shower hats, toothbrushes and even soap may be as rare as a free lunch in the future. Disposable hotel toiletries will no longer be offered for free in Guangzhou hotels in order to cut down on garbage, reports the Southern Daily.

Guangzhou is currently deliberating a policy which will encourage the use of reusuable items in order to reduce the impact on the environment. Yin Ziyong, department head of the municipal management works committee, explained the policy:

This is to promote regulations. Guangzhou’s hotel industry has traditionally gifted (its guests) with with six complimentary items. Following the development of society and economy, many clients have brought up environment-saving measures used by international hotels in which guests are to pay for these complimentary products. Right now, we are soliciting different parties for their perspectives. It is to promote the reduction of disposable items, and is not an inflexible policy to be uniformly applied.

Photo: Alibaba


Guangdong Protests Against Waste Incinerators Turn Violent

Posted: 06/19/2014 3:42 pm

guangdong garbage protestSeveral people were injured and detained when hundreds of homeowners in Panyu, south of Guangzhou, clashed with local authorities during a protest against the construction of a local waste disposal plant, reported Radio Free Asia.

Approximately 1,000 homeowners in the Fairview Peninsula protested on Wednesday by blocking traffic in and out of the facility located less than 20 meters from the local kindergarten.

Eyewitnesses say physical confrontations broke out between the protestors, police, and a large group of “unidentified men”, and that approximately ten protestors were taken away by police.

The homeowners are upset at not having been consulted or made aware of the new waste disposal plant prior to its construction.

A local resident named He said:

“We didn’t know anything about this until they began work on it, when we saw they had flattened that whole area. We feel as though we’ve been duped, and that this isn’t good … for our kids’ health.”

shenzhen smelliest garbage dump protest demonstration

Elsewhere in Guangdong, a protest against another garbage dump took place on Sunday in Shenzhen that also saw police clash with and detain local residents.

The residents of Wanke No. 5 Garden in Shenzhen’s Bantian district were protesting against the Qingshui River Xiaping landfill, which has become notorious lately due to its odor, something residents lampooned by awarding it the “smelliest landfill in history” an an earlier protest this month.

 READ: Students Wear Face Masks to Class to Combat Neigboring Stench

Environmental issues have become the leading cause of social unrest in China, replacing land disputes, Bloomberg has reported. And it’s a problem that is only increasing in scope: every year, China creates more than 360 million tons of waste, an amount that grows by 8% each year, reported China Dialogue.

Other recent Guangdong protests against garbage dumps have become successful. Protests in Puzhai and Shantou have resulted in the closure of waste incinerator plants last August and in January of this year, respectively.

However, other Guangdong citizens have benefited from their visits to Guangdong garbage dumps. Some 10,000 principals and headmasters of Guangdong schools and colleges visited a 78 meter-high landfill site in Guangdong on June 10.

Deputy headmaster Huang Yuying said the visit was a good chance for the educators to see how garbage from large urban areas is dealt with so that they can better teach students about environmental awareness and how to properly sort and dispose of refuse.

An ambulance with medical personnel were on hand during the visit in case visitors became overwhelmed by the smell.


Photos: RFA


Shenzhen Residents Protest “Smelliest Landfill in History” By Giving it an Award

Posted: 06/2/2014 8:00 am

shenzhen smelliest garbage dump protest demonstrationThe glorious days of China’s top landfill project is over. Over the years, Qingshui River Xiaping landfill in Shenzhen has nabbed some of the most revered accolades possible including a “national model landfill project” award in 2006 and named “a first-rate non-harmful landfill” by China’s then Ministry of Construction.

Eight years later however, the landfill has been given the honor of “the smelliest landfill in history”, a title which local odor-ridden residents have put into words on a jinqi, an honorary banner, and presented to a representative from the garbage dump. The jinqi is usually presented to persons or organisations for their exceptional achievements.

The award was conferred during a mass protest on May 31 when local residents in South Bantian District used their cars to block more than 100 garbage trucks from entering the landfill, “causing serious traffic congestion in several areas in Qingshui River District,” Phoenix News reported. Residents were seen holding signs calling for the landfill’s closure that read:

The bad odor of the Xiaping garbage dump is disturbing the people!


Firmly request the closure of Xiaping garbage dump!


The protest took place just two days after China Environmental News published a report saying the landfill lacks the proper infrastructure to treat waste overflow leaked from the waste piled in the landfill. During the rainy season in Shenzhen, the amount of leachate discharged from the landfill can reach up to 2,000 tons a day, far surpassing the landfill’s designed processing amount of 1,600 tons.

According to photos taken by the newspaper, grey and red-colored waste waters were seen being discharged directly into the city’s sewage system without being treated. The protest underscores the growing tension between China’s fast urbanization and a deteriorating environment as residents have grown more concerned about environment-related issues.

The environment has replaced land disputes in the country as the top cause for social unrest, Bloomberg reported. Every year, the country creates more than 360 million tons of domestic waste, and the quantity is growing by 8% each year, reported China Dialogue.

Most of the country’s waste is dealt with in one of three ways: about 50% is dumped in landfills, 12% is burned and less than 10% is recycled into fertilizer. The rest is left untreated.

If the proper waste management steps are not taken, the tension over the nation’s garbage practices will continue to simmer, if not explode soon. And it’s such a shame: that’s some beautiful embroidery.

shenzhen smelliest garbage dump protest demonstration

shenzhen smelliest garbage dump protest demonstrationshenzhen smelliest garbage dump protest demonstrationshenzhen smelliest garbage dump protest demonstration

The red-colored jingqi reads:

The smelliest dump in all of history
When will there be a reprieve from this vile odor that disturbs the people?

Photos: Takefoto, Phoenix News

Charles Liu contributed to this report


Students Wear Face Masks to Class to combat neigbouring stench

Posted: 05/6/2014 8:00 am

Whenever you think class is boring and listening to your math teacher drone on and on is unbearable, take a moment to think about the poor students at Hong Cheng High School in Haifeng County, Guangdong Province. On top of the endless droning that they have to endure, these poor kids also have to suffer through an unbearable odor all day long.

Photographs published by Nanfang Agriculture Daily depict students sitting in the classroom wearing the too-obvious-to-miss blue masks that cover half of their faces in order to fend off the strong smell. (photo shown below.)

The foul smell is said to be a combination of a garbage transfer station located just 200 meters away from the campus, and discharged gas from several clothing factories operating near the campus, the newspaper said.

Built more than 10 years ago, the garbage station is one of the three transfer stations in Haicheng County. More than 10 tons of garbage are transported here on a daily basis.

The smell, which becomes even more pungent after a heavy rain fall, began roughly last semester. The smell has become so unbearable that “it compels one to vomit,” said one student surnamed Huang.

Classes were even disrupted because of the odor. When the wind blows the smell into the classroom, teachers often pause to let the odor disperse before they resume with the class, Huang said.

The principal said they have complained to the local environmental protection department a number of times, but nothing has changed. When asked by the newspaper reporter, one local official said the garbage station is expected to move to another location before September this year. Moreover, they have ordered three of the stinky clothing factories to shut down their operations.

But until graduation, students will have to cling tight to their filtered masks.

Home page and content page photo credit: Nanfang Agriculture Daily 


Garbage heap a sign of improved environmental awareness?

Posted: 10/24/2012 7:00 am

A picture of the garbage heap on a street in Baishixia Community in Shenzhen’s Bao’an district grossed out China Daily readers but it is an example of how complicated the business of sanitation is.

Pedestrians walk past the garbage heap

The garbage could not be transported to a nearby landfill because residents had demanded the landfill be shut down.

Another telling piece of news related to the environment was when 7,186 recent graduates applied for a series of sanitation posts, including maintenance and street cleaning positions, after an announcement was posted on the official website of the Harbin Human Resources and Social Security Bureau (HHRSSB) on September 22.

However, the action by the residents of Baishixia Community was probably just an act of NIMBY-ism that backfired horribly, and the Global Times suggests that the popularity of jobs in sanitation is down to the fact that graduates covet government jobs that have lots of stability and perks.

Workers begin the arduous task of cleaning the place up

But there have been examples of communities and individuals, such as this one we told you about in June, who have taken it upon themselves to clean up communities simply because it is the right thing to do.

You can read about how recycling has unleashed an entire subculture in China here at the excellent China Environmental Law blog.


‘Street urchin’ volunteers to pick up garbage in Shenzhen

Posted: 06/15/2012 7:00 am

Many of us know of a social outcast who said, “One day a real rain’s gonna come and wash the scum off the streets.” A local man is taking a much more positive approach to doing just that.

A self-described street urchin has made it his one-man mission to clean garbage off the streets around his home in Shenzhen, according to The Daily Sunshine. For most of the past 9 days, Liu Jiwen, 36, has been picking up garbage on Fuyong Street in Bao’an District near Kangzhibao Department Store. Liu has been in Shenzhen for 17 years, has never had a steady job, and been a petty thief for most of that time. He is divorced and his wife has full custody of the child. When a passer-by asks him what he is doing and why, he smiles and explains he is doing what makes him happy.

On the afternoon of June 11, a reporter for The Daily Sunshine noticed a man wearing blue-rimmed spectacles, covered in dust and mud, picking cigarette butts, paper and other waste and putting it into a trash bag with his bare hands. He has become known in the area as Brother Cleanliness.

Several weeks ago he went to Shanghai with a friend. He noticed how clean the streets were, and when he saw a pedestrian drop the skin of a watermelon, he bent down and picked it up. He suddenly felt that this was a very satisfying thing to do. He decided that as soon as he returned to Shenzhen, he would spend a large amount of time every day cleaning the streets.

Liu even bends down and picks chewing gum off the street. Sometimes people see what he is doing and offer money, but he never accepts. “If I ever accepted money to do this, it would lose its meaning.”

In an interview with Shenzhen Evening Post, Liu confessed that he hadn’t always been a good person. After arriving in Shenzhen when he was 19, he got trained in Martial Arts and got a job as a security guard. However, he was fired from that job after stealing from his employer. When asked why he was doing it, he explained that he intended to turn over a new leaf, and become a good person. “I am not trying to prove anything.” His inspiration is his ex-wife Bing Bing, who he believes would be supporting his actions if she knew about it.

Liu has no source of income, and his friends are worried about him. He will often miss one or two meals a day, and recently, he spent the night in an Internet Bar because he has no fixed abode.

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