Abseiling cleaners pick up a tonne of rubbish a day from scenic Chinese mountain range

Workers forced to spend all day going up and down cliffs to remove litter left by visitors to the Huangshan world heritage site

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 October, 2017, 3:18pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 October, 2017, 5:51pm

Abseiling cleaners are collecting up to a tonne of rubbish a day during peak holiday season in one of China’s most popular scenic mountain ranges, according to media reports.

Cleaners at Huangshan, also known as Yellow Mountain, are working for 12 or more hours a day climbing up and down the steep cliffs to pick up litter left by tourists.

According to Kankannews.com, a Shanghai-based video news platform, there are nearly 20 cleaners in Huangshan who have received professional rock-climbing training.

Huangshan, a world heritage site in the southeastern Anhui province, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country and attracts up to 50,000 visitors a day.

The “golden week” holiday, which began with National Day on Sunday, is the busiest time of the year for the cleaners, who work in nine zones across the park.

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During peak tourist season, they are so busy they have to leave home before sunrise and often do not finish until 7 or 8pm.

Li Peisheng, who has been doing the job for 16 years, said they often worked in groups to ensure their safety.

Li is responsible for the Yuping area of Huangshan, one of the most popular areas within the world heritage site, and said some of the cliffs there were so steep as to be nearly vertical.

“We pick up nearly 200 bags of rubbish a day, each weighing about five to six catty [equal to around 2.5-3kg] in Yuping zone alone,” Li said.

This would mean they are picking up around 1,000 kilograms in his zone alone.

It is a difficult job and Li said the rubbish was often scattered across a wide area – either because visitors were throwing it over the edge of a cliff or leaving it on the mountainside where it was dispersed by the winds.

The strong gusts also mean that Li is often left hanging in mid-air and is forced to hold on to the rocks, tree branches or his harness for safety.

Li also said he was often asked to pick up wallets or phones dropped by tourists.

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However, the cleaners’ efforts are not always appreciated by visitors.

One reader from Nanjiang left a message on Kankannews.com saying that tourists should continue leaving rubbish behind to keep these cleaners employed while others have called for the work to be done by robots.

One commentator from Fuyang of Anhui province said better public education was needed to raise awareness of the problems caused by littering.