Waste collectors headed for the scrapheap

Updated: 2016-01-13 08:22

By Wang Yanfei(China Daily)

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 Waste collectors headed for the scrapheap

School students walk through a narrow alley lined with dilapidated houses in Dongxiaokou in December. Most children in the village come from the rural areas and live with their migrant worker parents.

A displaced community

Since 2013, nearly 1.2 mill-ion square meters of unlicensed buildings have been demolished in the village, including 650,000 sq m of recycling facilities, according to Zhang Chuancheng, Dongxiaokou's deputy head.

"The land will be turned into grassland or used as a base for high-end industrial projects," he said. "Low-end industries, such as garbage collection, do not need to be located in Beijing."

The city government has built new houses for residents affected by the demolition and reconstruction project, but the collectors, migrant workers without Beijing hukou, or residency permits, are not eligible to apply.

Some of them, such as Xie, have decided to return to their hometowns and villages later this year. Xie said he has been thinking about going home for some time, "even though I have no idea what I will do when I get back".

He has had diabetes for several years, but lacking hukou, and therefore health insurance in the capital, he can only afford cheap medicines and has to administer the injections himself. "This will probably be my last New Year in Beijing," he said.

Gao said she will find somewhere else to live when her temporary house is torn down.

"Anywhere in Beijing is fine. I have to raise my kid who is studying in our hometown," she said. Without Beijing hukou, the children of migrant workers are not eligible to attend the city's public schools, so many of them are sent to private establishments that are suitable for the children of absent parents. Although the conditions in these schools are poor, they still charge about 4,500 yuan per semester, equal to several weeks' income for many migrant workers.

Replacement efforts

In the face of the planned demolition of Dongxiaokou's garbage centers and the eviction of the waste collectors, the municipal government has been making efforts to replace them.

Since 2010, the number of pilot projects to promote garbage classification in Beijing has risen from 600 to nearly 3,000, accounting for nearly 75 percent of the city's residential communities, China Environment News reported in March.