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Too Much Trash? Try Giant Deodorant Guns

Can't imagine anything going wrong with this plan:

Beijing is to install 100 deodorant guns at a stinking landfill site on the edge of the city in a bid to dampen complaints about the capital's rubbish crisis. ...

Beijing's waste problem—and China's—is expanding as fast as its economy, at about 8% each year. With millions more people now able to afford Starbucks, McDonald's, Kentucky Fried Chicken and other elements of a western, throwaway lifestyle, the landfill sites and illegal tips that ring the capital are close to overflowing.

Granted, deodorant guns aren't the only option out there. China could build a slew of incinerators to burn all that trash. The central government, for its part, is planning to increase the incineration rate to 40 percent by 2015.

But the trouble is that trash incinerators have a nasty habit of emitting mercury and dioxins, which are linked to all sorts of health problems and can waft across the Pacific. (The World Bank has estimated that dioxin levels in China could double if the government goes ahead with its planned incinerator spree.) Meanwhile, no one wants to live near an incinerator, so it's a nightmare trying to put them anywhere. Europe and Japan have dealt with this problem by forcing stricter pollution standards on their waste-disposal facilities, but those cleaner incinerators tend to be pricey.

There's also that old standby: recycle/reduce/reuse. The Guardian notes that China recycles just 4 percent of its trash, compared with 35 percent in Britain. But this old New York Times piece by Keith Bradsher quoted a Chinese waste engineer who explained how people in China feel about recycling: "No one really cares." Well, hope those deodorant guns do the trick, then.

(Flickr photo credit: DooleyPhoto)