Shanghai, China is a gigantic city of somewhere close to 24 million people living within it. Crowded is an understatement. With every meeting attended, there was a theme throughout: the future of China and its people. Other than the obvious of consumerism, IT in manufacturing, and being better than the United States, environmentalism is brought to light.
When sitting with professor Ulf Richter of Tongji University, he explained that China is embarking in their 13th 5-year plan that includes more innovation, green development, opening up and sharing, and becoming moderately prosperous. Environmental technology is a major issue within the country. Air pollution and metals in the water cause 1.2 million premature deaths. Entrepreneurs are trying to find advanced strategies to bring into China.
As for current tactics already in place, a group called Green Initiatives started Shanghai’s first e-waste pollution center. They believe the process in which waste is discarded needs to be more transparent; is it actually being recycled or sent to landfill? Within these landfills there are numerous amounts of wire and electronics graveyards. Since these items aren’t being disposed of properly, there is a growing rate of respiratory issues, and high risks of cancer and poisoning.
E-waste alone is on an annual rise of 3-5% a year. China has a high recycling rate through informal collection systems; although where the waste goes after changing hands is unknown.
Green Initiatives is trying to change this trend by placing bins in public and private areas to collect all types of recycling: electronics, textiles, plastics, etc. They work with teams to organize a project launce initiative with quarterly pickups. A company can sponsor a box, in which their logo will be placed on the box or they can rent a box for private access within their company. The project goals are as follows:
1 - to spread awareness and encourage conscious buying of e-goods and how to properly recycle them
2 - ensure proper recycling of unwanted e-goods
3 - demonstrate that the power to recycle is attainable
Green Initiatives hosts awareness events with monthly meetings that include a documentary about recycling issues and leads worldwide. They have action campaigns, where no action is too small. One that was recently put into effect includes placing a water bottle in the toilet tanks to save homes and businesses a lot on water, and the water itself. There are many other impact projects, panels, forums, speaker events, etc. Right now, Green Initiatives has 20 boxes out in Shanghai and the number is continuously growing. Although this project has been successful so far, the non-profit’s aim is to create and raise awareness, and pass on the job of collecting the boxes.
TES-AMM Corporation (China) Ltd. is a facility with synchronized waste management. The name stands for Total Environmental - Solutions Asset Material Management. Founded in Singapore and with many others worldwide, each one is in a different phase. Phase 4 factory includes the processing of materials mechanically and chemically. Phase 3 is mechanical process only; Phase 2 is in charge of logistics and storage with basic mechanical process; and Phase 1 is just an office. Shanghai’s TES-AMM is the headquarters in China, with 4 other facilities within the country; they are a Phase 4 building.
The city of Shanghai produces 45,000 tons of industrial and electronic waste a year. The TES-AMM’s being a Phase 4 facility has included the services of security and data wiping off refurbished parts. They take in televisions, refrigerators, washing machines, computers and A/C units as of current. They also have many permits and certifications that verify their status. With a focus on e-waste, the company breaks down the process in which electronics are recycled. First, the product is chemically stripped with cyanide, then put through reverse electrosis and special metals refinery. Through the mechanical process, the item is then crushed and put through electrostatic separation. Two products are left over: copper and plastic powder. The plastic is manufactured to get additives to produce plastic granulate which is then resold, as is the copper.
TES-AMM also partakes in community outreach and activities. They go to schools and educate the students on proper recycling techniques. They also donate money to rural areas.
By Maria Tsamosiros