Why a Western Model of Recycling Won’t Work for China

China’s recent waste import ban has led to increased conversations globally on the topic of waste management. In China, one conversation that comes up in particular, among the general public and Chinese government alike, is the need to have a better system of household waste categorization for the millions of residents that live in Shanghai. The call is for a sorting system that is more aligned to…

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China to Expand Waste Import Ban

While many western cities and firms are scrambling to find solutions and workarounds for the mountains of waste plastic, unsorted paper, textile, and slag that can no longer be sent to China, the Chinese government just doubled down on January's waste ban with an announcement that over the next 18 months there will be an additional three stages to the existing ban. It is an announcement that ha…

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China’s Electric Vehicle Boom Brings a Wave of Battery Waste

The amount of retired EV (electric vehicle) batteries will grow at an unprecedented rate in China. Recycling them will bring twofold benefits – reducing the consumption of raw materials for producing new batteries and minimizing potential environmental and health hazards caused by the mismanagement of battery waste. – Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (中国工业和信息化部专家) With hundred…

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Interview: Inside the Inclusion Factory

Be it a physical or intellectual challenge, China today is home to more than 80 million individuals living with a disability, many of whom do not have the right to work and have a job. The exclusion of such a large number of people from traditional work is a challenge that the government has already taken up through the development of a quota system and tax breaks for employers who hire more inclu…

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She-economy & Sustainability in China

Although International Women’s Day 2018 (Mar 8) has already passed, we believe it’s never too late to celebrate women’s achievements and examine the push forward of gender equality in the context of China’s sustainable development. With the theme for 2018’s International Women’s Day being #PressForProgress, we wondered if #IWS has lost its meaning in China as there seems to still exist such a low…

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Building More Schools Is Not The Solution

Public awareness on the need to address the plight of China’s left-behind children was reignited earlier this year following the high-profile story of Ice-Boy, one of 62 million children left-behind children living in rural China, and attending rural schools, without parental care. Among those who spoke out on the need for targeted support for rural children was Jack Ma, founder of China’s tech…

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How Will AI Shape Modern Business and Society?

The adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) has been hailed by some as a technological revolution set to eclipse the invention of the wheel, steam engine, automobile, or even the internet in terms disrupting economy and society. Optimists believe that AI will allow humans to accelerate productivity, squash inefficiencies, and create a world free from want. Pessimists see the accelerating pa…

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Can the Investment Community Drive Leadership in Sustainability?

Over the past four years, most sustainability professionals I know have been looking forward to Larry Fink’s letter to S&P 500 CEOs at the beginning of each year. The anticipation surrounding these annual letters from BlackRock’s CEO is due to the fact that we have the world’s largest asset owner voicing what sustainability practitioners have long been advocating of businesses. Fink, a leader…

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“Ice Boy” and China’s Left-Behind Children

Every so often, breaking news brings China’s left-behind children to the forefront of public attention. Recent reports of left-behind child orphans being adopted and trained by martial arts clubs led to public debate over the fate of rural children growing up alone, as well as the shocking finding from a survey late last year in which 11.9% of left-behind children said that their parents working a…

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Impact of China’s Waste Ban is Global

As the world’s largest waste importer, China received more than 7.35 million tons of plastic scraps and 28.5 million tons of mixed paper in 2016, about half of the globe’s total. Coming mainly from Europe, Japan, and the United States through direct or indirect trade via Hong Kong, for decades China was willing to take these products, process them, and put them back into the economy. However, on J…

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Left-Behind Children: The Parents’ Perspective

“I work in a clothing factory in Guangdong. This year after returning home to spend Chinese New Year with my 5 year old son, I found work in Nanchong, the closest city to my home village in Sichuan. But after 2 months, I had to go back to the factory. The salary here is 700RMB lower per month. I can't afford to live closer to home.”                                                              …

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AI and Cities

With 25 megacities, with populations of at least ten million people, currently dotting the Earth, and an expected thirty more coming by 2025, the next few decades will see unprecedented movements of people into the city. Movements that are fueled by the hope for opportunities, but are themselves posing some of the greatest challenges as megacities commonly struggle with issues such as unsustain…

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E-Waste: Does the Informal System Do It Better?

In our extensive research into the informal waste systems of Shanghai over the last year, we have recently begun to explore the inner workings of a specific branch of this system: the e-waste stream. As the fastest growing waste stream, with over 16Mt generated in Asia, e-waste is hazardous, complex and costly to treat. It is also incredibly valuable with a thriving economy set up around it. Du…

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Do Migrants Still Want an Urban Hukou?

The past 40 years of China’s economic transformation has drastically changed the relationship between its rural and urban populations, and through this process, more than 277 million rural migrants have moved to the cities to find work. Migrants who do not lack access to social services like healthcare, housing and education because they hold a rural Hukou, and thus are not considered urban reside…

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What Education and Skills Will You Need When AI Takes Over?

Automation has the potential to dramatically increase human productivity and enrich lives. But at the same time, this potential benefit is also one of the greatest stumbling blocks to be navigated by society. If AI and automation are not implemented with careful and thoughtful oversight these technologies have the potential to perpetuate inequality; low-class jobs will be automated and an innovati…

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