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World Expo Plenty of GPS potties, to keep site clean

2009. 27 October

by Yang Jian
( Not being able to find a clean toilet and seeing litter everywhere can spoil the world's most popular tourist spots.

Next year's Shanghai World Expo will feature more than 200 of the world's most innovative pavilions filled with the most advanced technology and inspiring exhibits about modern urban life.
But piles of rubbish, dirty surfaces and lack of potties would make a joke of the theme, "Better City, Better Life."

Garbage and waste could abound in such a monumental, six-month-long event that begins May 1.

The 2010 Expo site covers 5.28 square kilometers and more than 400,000 visitors are expected every day. Each is expected to stay eight to 10 hours.

How to keep the site clean and hygienic is as big a challenge as explaining "Better City, Better Life."

At a Shanghai Expo public forum on "Better Environment, Better Expo," the organizer made these predictions:

Litter will be removed within 10 minutes.

A toilet will be available every 200 meters.

No litter will float on the Huangpu River.

All the cleaning work will be finished before the Expo opening at 9am.

About the pressing issue of potties:

There will be 52 stationary and 50 mobile toilets throughout the site, with a total of 6,410 cubicles. The proportion of male to female will be 1:2.5.

Odors will be removed, queues will be short, toilets will be painted in warm colors and soft music will be played.

Off site, the city is building 1,039 more public toilets and will make 800 downtown public toilets free.

Virtually no brooms will be seen because most of the cleaning will be done by machines, says Kong Qingwei, director of the Shanghai Cengtou Corp, the city's main infrastructure contractor.

A huge overall clean-up will take place before Expo opening. Cleaners will cover the public areas with vacuum vehicles and then wash the ground with high-pressure water.

Only indoor areas will be cleaned by hand, according to Ni Yonghong, assistant manger of the Shanghai Environment Industry Co.

Cleaners will be on duty 24/7 for 224 days for the event that will last 184 days, he says.

Every day for six months, around 4,000 cleaners will patrol the site from 9am to midnight, in electric vehicles equipped with global positioning systems.

The cleaners will tend to designated areas about every 25 minutes. Each time they finish, the command center will record GPS positions to ensure efficiency.

They will collect about 130 tons of trash from the Expo site daily, about two percent of Shanghai's normal output, with about 250 tons expected on peak days.

The Huangpu River along the site will be patrolled by several boats that collect litter and vacuum up oil from the surface. They are all named Century Spring.

Besides elaborate above-ground cleaning, the organizer has a "secret weapon" underground to cope with the rubbish - a pneumatic rubbish conveyor system that can recycle all trash in the site's core area. It only requires three operators.

The system consists of huge exhaust shafts and many interconnected tunnels linked to all surface rubbish bins. The exhaust shafts allow airflow to send the trash to a rubbish station via the tunnel. The station then separates rubbish automatically and transports it to collection boxes for recycling.

The system can automatically transport about 60 tons of rubbish every day from the core area, including major structures such as the China Pavilion and Theme Pavilion.

In addition to 52 stationary toilets, 50 mobile potties will be deployed to sites of greatest demand to ensure there are no long queues, organizers promise.

Unpleasant smells and queuing were the two major complaints during previous Expos but that won't be a problem in Shanghai.

"Toilet queues are unavoidable in the Expo site, but the organizer promises no long lines," says Li Ye, director of the Sanitation Center of the Bureau of Shanghai World Expo Coordination.

The city will have five public toilets per square kilometer by 2010, according to the Shanghai City Management and Administration Execution Bureau. It now has three toilets in every square kilometer.