New Report: Informal Waste Management in China

Most people can make money from waste … They start work at five in the morning and get off at 10 at night; they never rest and don’t spend much money. In one year, about 72,000 RMB. After a little over a year, you can really make that much money. 10 years down the road, you can save quite a lot.” – Owner, Large Collection Centre The latest addition to our publications series “Informal Waste…

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Waste in Shanghai: Rising Pressures for the Informal System

China's waste management system is feeling the heat. Over the past few months, scandals from illegal dumping to capacity reaches of major landfills have exposed the complexities of Shanghai’s waste stream – and the challenges that exist in controlling its management. These issues are not unique to Shanghai – they represent broader trends and issues of consumption growth in many of China’s ci…

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China’s Airpocalypse: Why London’s Playbook Won’t Work

“Beijing’s pollution is bad, but they'll clean their air just like London did …” In 1952, the five-day Great Smog of London killed more than 12,000 people and made over 150,000 people ill. It was an environmental disaster that many people today consider both a cautionary tale and an instructive example of how to address and overcome an air crisis for areas in similar situations – in part because…

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Supply Chain Sustainability: The Bestway to Put Theory Into Practice

SUSTAINABILITY: THEORY VS. REALITY When discussing sustainable business, ideas that make "big-picture" environmental sense on paper may or may not translate well into day-to-day practice. What may seem more efficient in the long-term is not always conducive to the main focus of business, the bottom line – particularly when talking about supply chain actors and retailers. This is why it's so…

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Generosity & Philanthropy in China: It’s About Context

THE QUESTION: IS CHINA GENEROUS? Much of our work here at Collective centers on the business side of "social entrepreneurship" in China – going beyond business as usual to work towards the development of a better world. Yet, we also run into a certain question from the more philanthropic side of that mission: Is China generous? Answering such a loaded question risks overgeneralizing a country…

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Ocean Plastic & China’s Affluence, Markets for Sustainability & Leadership | #AskTheCollective 002

As we wrap up the start of February, we are proud to present Episode 002 of the #AskTheCollective video series. This episode features topics ranging from ocean plastic and the influence of affluence in China, to the link between sustainability and a market-driven economy. Many thanks to askers: Wade Sewell, allaways coffee, and Mario Van Der Meulen. As always, we hope you find these questions a…

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3 Top Concerns for Chinese Citizens in 2017

Last week, President Xi Jinping attended the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Businesses, world leaders, NGOs, and think tanks used the forum to forecast concerns, offer international solutions, and point out emerging global trends. China was often a point of discussion. Chinese Concerns Ipsos, for instance, presented new China-related findings from its 2016 study, “What Worries t…

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Shanghai Waste Scandal: 100 Tons Dumped Illegally

Earlier this week, Shanghai’s municipal government uncovered 100 tons of waste dumped illegally near Chongming Island. Pictures of the scandal garnered serious attention on Weibo and included biohazards, household waste, and plastics in one of Shanghai’s four reservoirs. Investigators from Chongming’s Water Source Management department have found no signs of serious contamination, but they have te…

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Graying Powers: Opportunities in the UK and Chinese Aging Societies

“China has faced the same problem to an even greater degree, on an even greater scale.” — Elderly woman in the U.K. Among numerous global controversies ranging from politics and economics to climate change and energy, one critical issue has fallen out of view of the public eye, until now: the impact of an imminent, graying population. According to the recently released U.K. autumn statement,…

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Action Over Regulation: The Economics of China’s Recycled Paper & Cardboard

In a prior article in our ongoing series of waste management in China, we pointed out that rebranding waste as a resource can provide an alternative lens when discussing waste. As a valued resource, recycled paper and cardboard in China offer a unique case of how global market mechanisms and government regulation impact the role of waste in society. From foreign imports to sharp spikes in domes…

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JLR Car Sharing Hackathon Revs Up Inspiration and Ideas

This Saturday, Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) and Collective Responsibility hosted a training session for their upcoming student competition in car sharing: “Hacking the Future of Connected Vehicles. The Challenge: Car Sharing and the Future Needs of Users On December 10, six student teams from Tongji, Jiaotong, Zhejiang, the China Academy of Art, and Nanjing University of Science and Technology wi…

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Taking on Takeaway Waste: The Tupperware Challenge

As consumers have increasingly relied on the conveinence of takeout for our meals, an exploential growth of plastic waste  has followed. In China alone, over five million delivery orders per day are placed on Eli.me, the country's most popular online food delivery startup. However, this comes at a time when it is being shown that  only 40% of plastic waste makes it into collection systems in several Asian countries, including China, with a significant portion of this waste ending up in landfills or waterways. It is a challenge that can only be expected to grow, so in lieu of changes in regulation or materials, we asked ourselves: Is there a way to limit personal, daily consumption of lunchtime plastic waste? AN EXPERIMENT: TAKING ON TAKEAWAY Collective Responsibility believes that you, as a consumer, hold the power to limit plastic waste. There are many small ways to limit plastic and takeaway waste in China that can really stack up when brought to scale in the most populated nation on the planet. One is to start using your own reusable takeaway boxes, water bottles, and thermoses when ordering takeaway. You'll decrease your personal plastic consumption, and depending on the establishment, you might even save some coin by not paying for that extra bag or box. We practice what we preach, too. Collective challenges our employees to use personal lunch boxes, rather than plastic takeaway packaging as part of our lunchtime routine. But because we're researchers, we took this challenge one step further: an experiment, a test in the real world. Collective Responsibility visited over 20 takeaway restaurants in the Shanghai area, interviewing employees from the smallest mom-and-pop dumpling stand to international chain restaurants, in order to get the bigger picture on lunchtime plastic waste. At each store, Collective Responsibility identified whether or not the stores allowed takeaway in personal Tupperware. Here are our results! CHINESE-STYLE RESTAURANTS Chinese restaurants already have a strong culture of takeaway service. Many of the employees at the restaurants were unsurprised by the request to use personal lunch boxes. In fact, one customer at a 麻辣烫 restaurant (málàtàng, "hot pot") said she frequently brought her own bowl in order to get a larger proportion of food! Although this may not be a sustainability incentive, it shows that many restaurant policies and infrastructure are conducive to encouraging sustainability initiatives in takeaway culture. Food Collective was able to use personal lunch boxes in each of the Chinese establishments visited. These include chain restaurants, such as 吉祥馄饨 (Jíxiáng Húntún, "Lucky Wonton") and 桂林米粉 (Guìlín Mǐfěn, "Guilin Rice Noodles"), as well as smaller food stands. Beverages In our investigation, we were unable to use a personal thermos or takeaway cups at bubble tea drink stands, such as Daska Tea and Coco. This was due to a specific lid that the company seals their drinks in, which cannot be placed in a thermos. Western-style RESTAURANTS Collective Responsibility anticipated more resistance to personal takeaway from Western-style restaurants, due to potential international regulations or restrictions. However, each Western-style restaurant we visited allowed the use of personal Tupperware as well, exceeding our expectations. Food Collective Responsibility visited ten western restaurants, including Wagas, Subway, KFC, Papa John's, and Carl's Jr. Each restaurant allowed takeaway in personal lunch boxes; however, there were limitations due to the style and size of the food. Whereas meals like rice or noodles from the Chinese style establishments can be spooned and spread into most boxes, you might need to have a little more forethought when it comes to Western food. For example, a good box should be able to accommodate the size of a pizza slice, salad, fries, and so on. Trying to cram KFC's family bucket of wings into a box the size of your hand? You might want to rethink that. Just some friendly advice. Beverages Pacific Coffee, Starbucks, and Zoo Coffee each allowed drink takeaway in personal cups. In fact, Starbucks has a policy that requires employees to allow takeaway in personal containers. These stores also provide porcelain cups, which are a great sit-in option. CONCLUSIONS AND BARRIERS OF CONSUMER BEHAVIOR We've found that local and national eateries are generally fair game for the Tupperware Challenge. And when it comes to getting your fried chicken fix or that desperate pizza slice, using Tupperware boxes is definitely feasible, but might take some planning.  With some exceptions, bringing your own containers for food and drink takeaway is a good strategy for not only decreasing your plastic waste consumption but also saving some money – and if you're lucky, you might even get a little more bang for your buck. Give it a try, and get creative! Let us know about your outcomes for the Tupperware Challenge at your favorite lunchtime spot. We'd love to compare notes. As the saying goes, "old habits die hard." We understand; the forethought and planning needed to bring personal takeaway box and cup are not always convenient. In many ways, the Tupperware Challenge encourages a small lifestyle change. And while Collective Responsibility invites you to challenge yourself to take the extra initiative to bring one’s own lunch boxes every once in awhile, we do recognize that larger industry solutions and government solutions are also necessary for managing plastic waste in China. Hopefully, making this small personal step towards decreasing consumption, multiplied across the millions of consumers using takeaway and order-in every day, can get some momentum going in the right direction.

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China’s Plastic Waste Epidemic: What You Need to Know

The world produces approximately 300 million tons of plastics each year, and that number is only increasing. Furthermore, 22% to 43% of the plastic used worldwide is disposed of in landfills, according to the United Nations Environmental Program. With the rise in popularity of online ordering and takeaway or delivery services, the future of China's plastic waste — from consumption to disposal —…

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Ownership to Access: China’s New Paradigm?

An autonomous trip to the airport in one of Jaguar’s executive cars. A weekend away in a Land Rover 4x4. A track day in a high-performance sports car. These are all part of Jaguar Land Rover’s vision for a luxury automotive experience as they seek to innovative the future of mobility in China. Consumers around the world now require a diversity of experiences to satisfy their growing wants, e…

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Training Day: Kohler Hackathon Targets 25% of Chinese Without Toilets

  Uneven Access to Toilets Living in one of China’s major cities, it’s easy to take certain goods and services for granted. Every street has at least one convenience store, a bank, a major café chain, and a public restroom. So long as you stay in the city, you can access all your basic necessities - money, food, clean water, and flushable toilets. It’s difficult to imagine, then, that th…

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