A few days after the Mid-Autumn Day holiday, various mooncake boxes could be seen filling the garbage bins in most neighborhoods. The packages can be delicate and vary in shape. Some are made of plastic, metal or wood and even have cloth linings. Others are decorated with jade-like beads. But all these beautiful and delicate mooncake packages are worth nothing to those who recycle waste.
"They're worthless. Beautiful but cheap. Eight jiao per kilogram."
Recycling companies say the delicate packages are not as useful as cardboard, because they produce less paper pulp.
"After they are soaked in water, the packages will be filtered along with the impurities. They are non-recyclable."
Dong Jinshi, Vice President of the International Food Package Association, says he has conducted an experiment to test the components of mooncake packaging materials.
"There is a thin coating above the paper; therefore, it cannot be ripped up."
What about the silk-like golden lining? Dong says it is made of plastic.
"Let's burn it. Look, the oil from the plastic is coming out, and you can smell the odor of plastic too. This is hard to recycle."
These delicate mooncake packages pose headaches for the employees at one waste recovery company, because categorizing is the first step in the recycling process.
"This is plastic—this is a piece of cloth on top—and this cannot be recycled. We have to separate them by hand, right? It's really a big waste."
An estimated 250-thousand tons of mooncake packages valued at 2.2 billion yuan are discarded every year. Most of them are not recyclable.
Experts say that about 6,000 trees are cut down annually specifically to make packages for mooncakes.
The same problem goes with most of those beautiful gift packages in the market.
Government statistics indicate that more than 40 million tons of various packages are produced every year, most of which are not recyclable.
With the approach of the National Day holiday, it will be another peak time for delicate packaging. We hope that factories that produce gifts put greater effort into minimizing their product boxes and containers.
For CRI, I'm Liu Min.