Meng Mi, Han Ximin
GARBAGE classification and treatment is an essential part of a city’s construction and development. In Frankfurt, four bins of different colors are placed in front of each household.
The first type is for paper waste; the second type is for biochemical waste, such as cells and drugs; the third type is for recyclable waste; and the fourth type for unrecyclable waste, such as kitchen waste. According to Michael Walter Paris, vice mayor of Frankfurt, garbage sorting has been enforced in Frankfurt for more than 15 years and local residents have a good record of compliance.
At present, Paris is working on the provision of a fifth type of garbage can for the collection of glass products.
“We think it is necessary to have this type of garbage can because residents now need to walk 100-200 meters for regular garbage treatment,” said Paris in an interview with Shenzhen Special Zone Daily.
To minimize garbage, the German Government charges households for the collection of garbage. The charges are based on the size of garbage bags. On average, a resident pays 50 euros (US$65) every three months for garbage management.
A city must also face the difficult choice of where to incinerate its garbage. Residents may protest if it is in a populated area. But if it is in a remote area, the cost of transportation is increased. In Frankfurt, the garbage incinerators are within the residential areas. Therefore, the government needs to invest to reduce pollution, said Paris.
Paris thought the government should play the leading role in garbage classification to raise public awareness of the importance of garbage treatment before starting with a complete garbage classification system.
“We have learned a lot about pollution the hard way. In Germany, education on garbage classification starts at a young age and it takes a long time for people to develop good habits,” said Paris.
Green Dot action
Garbage is regarded as a resource in Germany.
The country introduced its Green Dot system in 1991 following the introduction of the Packaging Ordinance under the Waste Act.
It encourages manufacturers to cut down on packaging as this saves them the cost of licensing fees.
The basic idea of the Green Dot is that consumers who see the logo know that the manufacturer of the product contributes to the cost of recovery and recycling. This can be with household waste collected by the authorities, or in containers in public places such as car parks and supermarkets.
The system is financed by the Green Dot license fee paid by the producers of the products.
So far more than 16,000 German enterprises had joined the system. Germany has a history of garbage classification for no more than 40 years. Now 70 percent of its waste is recycled, making it No.1 in Europe for recycling. The Green Dot now is the license symbol of a European network of industry-funded systems for recycling the packaging materials of consumer goods in 23 countries involving 130,000 enterprises.
Trade fairs in Frankfurt have a history of more than 800 years. Frankfurt Trade Fair (Messe Frankfurt) is the third-largest trade fair in the world and around 15 trade fairs are held in Frankfurt each year, attracting more than 1 million people.
The Frankfurt Motor Show (Internationale Automobil — Ausstellung — IAA), the world’s largest motor show, the Frankfurt Book Fair (Frankfurter Buchmesse), the world’s largest book fair, and Musikmesse, the world’s largest music fair, are known to the world.
The success of its exhibition business is attributed to its long-established good reputation, experience in service and developed road system, according to Paris.
“I think traffic control is very important. We are now planning to build an international convention and exhibition center near Frankfurt airport. We hope the trade and exchanges in science, finance and education will prosper as a result.”
Ties with Shenzhen
About 10,000 Chinese nationals live in Frankfurt and in 2012, Chinese Culture Festival was held in Germany to mark the 40th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two countries. Between Jan. 30 and Feb. 9, a weeklong celebration named China am Main was held in Frankfurt to show Chinese culture, opera and martial arts performances.
“Frankfurt has cooperated with Shenzhen in the culture, science and finance sectors. Huawei Technologies had set up its German headquarters in Frankfurt. I think it could strengthen cooperation between the two cities,” Paris said.