Off the Books: Informal Recycling in China

Resting at the forefront of nearly any discussion relating to the future of China’s rapidly developing economy is its rising urban population, with over 1 billion residents living in China’s cities by 2030. Since China has already established itself as the world’s largest waste-generator, rising levels of output due to increasing levels of affluence, consumption, and population stimulate many ques…

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Plastic Waste In China

In our final consumer waste post we examine the challenges faced in the area of plastic waste production and management.  China has a big history with plastic. Throughout its rise to economic prominence, China has manufactured and exported a huge amount of plastic products to eventually become the world’s largest plastic producer in 2013. More recently, China's domestic consumption of plastics…

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Packaging Waste – 5 opportunities for sustainable development

On Monday, we addressed the rise of China’s consumer waste industry. One stream outlined was packaging, an area of waste that is facing challenges along its supply chain. Here we delve deeper into the topic outlining the challenges and opportunities. Synonymous with consumer goods, packaging represents a particular waste stream that, given greater affluence and purchasing power, will grow. Pack…

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China’s Growing Consumer Waste Challenge

High material use and consumption is synonymous with the development of an economy, particularly an evolving one such as China, which over the last 20 years has focused heavily on the primary and secondary industries to drive growth. However, China’s economy is now changing, it is moving from one of heavy industry to one that is looking to meet the wants of its ever-growing domestic consumers.…

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Failed Systems Create Waste

While shopping at my local grocery store this week, I was confronted by a member of TESCO's staff who would not accept naked fruit. Everything had to be bagged to be weighed. When I mentioned the fact that he wasn't thinking about the environment, he said "only foreigners care about the environment". It was a failed system. One that Ray Anderson, former CEO of Interface flooring, addresses in…

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When Landfills Overflow. When there is No Away

When working with my students on the issues of sustainability, one of the fundamental facts that I am trying to impress upon them is that ultimately there is no "away". That ultimately, the wastes that we are creating through the economic models we have developed will at some point grow so large that they cannot be ignored. The above picture is a testimony to that very fact. Taken in the city…

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Shanghai Municipal Incineration. Converting Trash to Energy

Fresh off several conferences and meetings where discussions centered around smart grid, wind power, and other renewable energies, yesterdays tour of the Shanghai Municipal Waste Facility proved to be a very interesting site visit.  Operational for 3 years now, this facility (one of two facilities in Shanghai) incinerates about 1500 tons of trash a day from 5 districts of Shangahi (Shanghai has…

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