Waste disposal in pasture on Qinghai-Tibet plateau
(by Greenriver Environmental Protection Association of Sichuan)
Qinghai-Tibet plateau is the origin of the longest river in Asia---- the Yangtze River, and plays an important role in the ecological environment in China. As the economy developing and the traffic increasing, large amount of non-degradable waste is increasing rapidly as well which has threatened the safety of the pasture and the headwaters of the Yangtze River. Waste has become the main pollution in the source region of Yangtze River, thus the collection, transportation and disposal of the waste has become very important in order to clear the pollution and improve the ecological environment.
As one of the pioneer environmental NGO in China, Greenriver has been investigating on waste pollution in the source region of Yangtze River since 2003, during which, Greenriver established the Yangtze River Headwaters Ecological Conservation Station in 2011, with the intention to develop a standard procedure for waste collection, transportation and disposal on Qinghai-Tibet plateau.
With the support from Global Environment Facility Small Grant Programme and United Nations Development Programme, Greenriver started a Project on Reduction of POPs at the Source of Yangtze River and Development of Alternative Livelihood to Achieve Sustainable Grasslands Management. In a nutshell, the project was mainly focusing on providing environmental education to local people and awarding them for collecting, classifying and recycling waste, so as to reduce the waste pollution in the source region of Yangtze River.
From October 2012 when the conservation station was put into operation to 11th June 2013, local people have participated in the ‘Waste for goods’ exchanging with great interest and 48,365 plastic bottles and metal cans have been recycled, in the meantime, around 2000kg other waste such as beer bottles, broken glass, waste battery, rubber and household appliance have been collected. The project was successful considering there is only a population of 1400 people scattered on the 49,000 square meters pasture with the elevation of 4500 meters high, not to mention the harsh weather and terrible traffic, people still managed to participate in the programme.
It is not easy to gather local people for certain events as they are all scattered on the vast pasture, Greenriver took the opportunity of annual horse racing festival to publicize the project. We do see some positive impact on the local people in this years’ horse racing festival, while people dig a pit to keep the waste instead of littering the waste all over the place around or directly burning them up, then the volunteers will sort out the recyclable waste, burying the degradable ones, and take the non-degradable waste back to conservation station to process.
Greenriver also pays a great attention to pollution caused by waste batteries and has recycled around 2000 waste batteries so far.
The local people now take actions to protect the beautiful plateau where they have lived for centuries, however, for Greenriver, there is still a long way to go to establish the waste collection and transportation system and find a more innovative way to protect the environment on plateau.
Please see more details at organization website: www.green-river.org