As unglamorous a subject as it is, it is fascinating to see the way the rubbish is dealt with. At its simplest, it goes into a truck, squashed up with lots of other rubbish and land-filled somewhere.
But the majority of rubbish is recycled one way or another. Between recycle trucks, local recycle yards and old women collectors, nothing with any residual value is placed in the ground.
Six days a week the yellow rubbish truck winds its way through the lanes and streets playing The Maidens Prayer or Fur Elise in a distorted polyphonic ringtone. Upon the tune the whole neighborhood scuttle out of their homes with their bags of rubbish.
The truck has two barrels to collect food scraps. The meal of some happy (or unhappy) pigs somewhere.
Each Monday and Thursday a recycle truck follows close behind to collect paper, plastics, glass and metals.
I’m not sure when these musical trucks were introduced but I do recall the days when people would throw their rubbish into communal heaps where they were later collected. Though it can be inconvenient to make sure you reach the truck on time, it is far preferable than the old corner heaps.
There is a great recycle industry here that works through small local collection yards. There are 4 such yards within a short walk of our place. Here they pay by weight. Not a lot but enough that the twice-weekly recycle truck doesn’t collect that much.
They are messy places but interesting none-the-less. People busily break up and separate out the pieces.
They are sorted and recycled into something new.
Another part of the recycle chain are the old women and men who make a pittance living collecting and transporting stuff to these yards. Here a large hoard of rubbish sits by our road waiting to be sorted. Its been waiting a long time!
The end result is that Taiwan has a remarkable recycling record. There are however some things for which there is no recycle market. It is quite common to see old porcelain toilets and basins dumped on the roadsides and wastelands.
Perhaps more people should try recycling them like our relatives in Shanshang(山上).