Like many rapidly developing countries, China is being forced to admit that it isn’t prepared to deal the amount of the trash produced by a growing economy and increasing middle-class prosperity.
A city of over 17 million people, the amount of waste produced every day in Beijing is mind-boggling, and more than 200 landfills, both legal and illegal, have sprung up to accept the by-products of the country’s new throw-away lifestyle.
Recently, citizens living near one of the biggest dump sites, the Asuwei Landfill, have begun to complain about the stench of rotting trash drifting into their homes — a scent that appropriately mirrors the growing public concern about sanitation, environmental health and a runaway consumer culture.
Instead of learning from the mistakes of America and other Western countries already choking on the fumes of their own “affluenza,” and encouraging people to reduce their consumption of so-called disposable products, Beijing has decided to treat the symptom instead of the problem.
In early May, 100 high-pressure fragrance guns will be installed at the landfill, in an attempt to mask the scent of the rotting rubbish. The guns will be capable of spraying dozens of liters of chemical fragrance into the air every minute.
(Mmmmm…there’s nothing like having the scent of strawberries and decaying garbage waft through your window on a warm summer day!)
Even though this idea seems like a preposterous waste of money, there are some city officials who admit that while the perfume guns might satiate people for a short period of time, they are in no way a long term solution.
“All landfill and treatment sites in Beijing will be full in four years. That’s how long it takes to build a treatment plant. So we need to act right now to resolve the issue,” Wang Weiping, a waste expert in the city government, told The Guardian. “It’s necessary to restructure the current disposal system. We cannot rely on landfill anymore. It’s a waste of space.”
There’s been no discussion yet of the negative impact that releasing this enormous volume of chemical fragrance into the air will have on Beijing’s already poor air quality.
Image Credit: Flickr Creative Commons - D'Arcy Norman