RE: Alt/Life
Nov 11, 2020

Chinese ban on recycle waste results in bins living on streets, working on corners to support clean habits.

After 2 years of China's ban on importing recycling waste, areas of the city are facing a rise in recycling bins congregating on street corners amid displays of, as some have called it, 'unclean and seedy' behaviour that often results in brawls over pieces of paper and tin.

Local residents are becoming increasingly frustrated by the apparent inaction of their local council, with calls being made to forcibly remove these bins in the hope of cleaning up these notorious stretches of road. They cite evidence of constantly finding plastic tubs, straws, single-use bags, and glossy magazines scattered around the area as bins seek only pure recycled materials.

Jim Donutglue said the area is becoming noisy and dirty since the ban by the Chinese.

“At night we hear bins moving around and tipping over residents' private rubbish bins looking for bits of glass or other things that won't be rejected by Chinese recyclers. Then they will attack privately-owned recycling bin over the last scraps of good paper — it sounds like a horde of high school percussionists playing at the end of year concert blissfully unaware of how talentless they are.

“I feel for them, but I have a right not to have my rubbish violated like this, not when there are perfectly good dark corners and hidden spots where drug addicts and alcoholics drop perfectly good used Jim Beam cans. I could even understand if they turned to prostitution — not my scene, but there's a market for anything I guess.”


The council has however defended their position, saying that it's illogical to try to clean up areas by removing bins.

In a statement given to us, the council says that “It does not make sense to remove these struggling bins — who may I say perform an invaluable service to many residents — and call it 'cleaning up'. Our position is that we must support these bins during this difficult period. We will not be relocating them."

"However", the statement continues, "the council is listening and has set up a consultation process to explore ways to make the area better served by all residents. Any resident who feels negatively impacted will have a chance to submit their views, but we ask all residents to treat this situation with utmost seriousness and respect. But improvements to the area must be aligned to a holistic approach to recycling, otherwise, these disadvantaged bins will just go back to the street.”

Police say that they are aware of the spike in aggressive and desperate, anti-social behaviour, and that they perform regular patrols of these areas, but say they are generally powerless to stop them, stating that this is a matter for the local council to resolve, as it is typically council-owned bins that are involved.

“We must stress that this but a small section of the recycling bin community and no one should be blaming the many, many private recycling bins who go about their lives and purpose without hassle. Indeed, it's a shame that recycling bin on recycling bin violence is the most common crime reported here — recycling bins in the public sector are doing it tough, and sometimes resentment rises towards what is often seen as the comfortable existence of private bins.”

Speaking to one a recycling bin on condition of anonymity, they showed little remorse in their behaviour.

“Not what I thought I was going to grow up to be, sure, but it’s a living and I still get to do what I love. Some friends tell me I should go to university and join up  with those campus bins, but no one’s throwing a free degree in me around here.”