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Trash for cash, low-carbon sets new trend in Tibet

Updated: 2022-04-11 10:30 ( Xinhua )
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In less than two months, a newly opened minimarket in a remote village in Xigaze City, Southwest China's Tibet autonomous region, has garnered a large core of customers.

"Trash for cash" - that is the secret behind its success. Villagers can redeem goods with used cartons and drink bottles.

Early in the morning, Drukhyun, the first secretary of Chumik village, came to check the inventory. "More and more people are coming to redeem goods and we need to timely replenish stocks," Drukhyun said.

Yet the move was not quite well received in the beginning, until they put their eyes on the pupils.

The children used recyclables in exchange for snacks and soon the news spread. Now over 100 villagers have redeemed commodities with a market value of over 5,100 yuan (about $801).

The market has also provided jobs for four local residents that once lived under the poverty line, each earning a monthly salary of 3,000 yuan.

Tenzin Drolma is responsible for counting and weighing the goods. "I'm very grateful for having such an interesting and stable job. Local residents are highly motivated and I'm pretty busy every day."

Since a regulation on garbage sorting in Lhasa was initiated in November 2020, low carbon has become a prevailing lifestyle among locals.

In another "green" supermarket in Lhasa's Karma Kunsang subdistrict, the shelves are crammed with edible oil, detergent, toothpaste and other daily commodities. All the products are only available through redemption. One kilogram of plastic garbage can be exchanged for 13 points while one kilogram of cartons is worth of 5 points.

Sonam Dorje came early with a big sack full of waste paper. He redeemed 16 points, which he used to get a bag of salt. "I used to throw them away directly. Now I can redeem them at the market, which is an additional income for me," Sonam Dorje said.

Technology has also made the low-carbon lifestyle smarter and cleaner. In a community in Lhasa's Chengguan district, the intelligent recycling bins can calculate the weight and upload the redeemed points to cards held by local residents.

"When the trash bins are full, it will automatically 'remind' the cleaning staff to empty them," said Pendran, director of the district's waste sorting office.

Pendran added Chengguan district has built 220 garbage recycling stations and will install more to further perfect the whole system.

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