Big drop in debris suggests firework appeal fizzling out

Street cleaners picked up 800 tons of firework and firecracker debris yesterday following celebrations to welcome the God of Fortune — a fifth less than last year and almost 40 percent down on 2012.

This follows a 100-ton decrease in firework garbage on Chinese New Year’s Day last Friday.

Together with a much lower reading for PM2.5 pollutants yesterday than last year, these figures suggest Shanghai residents have taken heed of local government calls to cut back on fireworks over the Spring Festival, said officials.

The Shanghai Greenery and Public Sanitation Bureau wrote on its Weibo microblog account that sanitation workers cleared up about 800 tons of firework and firecracker waste material yesterday. This compared to 1,000 tons in 2013 and 1,300 tons in 2012.

And following Chinese New Year celebrations last week, 600 tons of firework and firecracker debris was collected, said the bureau. This was down from 700 tons in 2013 and 900 tons in 2012.

Yesterday, many fireworks and firecrackers were set off just after midnight to mark Chu Wu, the fifth day of the first month of the Chinese new year.

A peak of PM2.5 particles, fine material that is especially hazardous, occurred at 1am yesterday, said the Shanghai Environmental Protection Bureau.

But the reading of 62.3 micrograms per cubic meter was within the national standard of 75 micrograms per cubic meter and represented a 78 percent reduction on the same period of last year, said the bureau.

The city government has urged residents set off less fireworks and extended firework-free zones in efforts to reduce their effect on Shanghai’s air.

Yesterday afternoon the city enjoyed excellent air quality, with PM2.5 levels below 20 micrograms per cubic meter.

The Shanghai Environmental Monitoring Center forecast that city’s Air Quality Index today will range between 30 and 50.

Damp, rainy days are expected for the remainder of the week, after the cold snap of recent days. A cold alert was lifted yesterday. Lows in most districts were between 1 and 3 degrees Celsius yesterday morning, though Chongming County recorded minus 0.5.

Today will be less chilly, with a low of 3 and a high of 7, but overcast skies and rain are forecast through Friday.

Tomorrow should see temperatures range from 7 to 10 degrees.

Yesterday marked lichun, or start of spring, the first traditional solar term of 2014.

While lichun traditionally signifies the beginning of meteorological spring in China, Shanghai’s weather bureau said spring days are still some way off.