BEIJING, China — China, the world’s largest nation, holds a population of approximately 1.393 billion people. China’s rapid population growth contributes to a significant increase in solid waste production and mismanagement. In 2018 alone, China produced nearly 228 million tons of solid waste. Currently, one company is creating smart recycling machines that will hopefully address this issue.
The Xiao Huang Gou Environmental Technology Company (XHG) installed smart recycling machines in 39 Chinese cities to manage waste production. This resulted in successfully integrating a “complete waste recycling ecological chain.” XHG smart recycling machines cover three of the most densely populated cities in China: Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin. XHG increases access to recycling systems and educates the general public on the classification and delivery of recyclable materials. This helps reduce the threat of waste mismanagement in China.
Smart Recycling: How it Works
The process of XHG smart recycling begins when users access the XHG mobile phone app to pinpoint smart recycling machines in the area. Once users locate a recycling machine, a QR code is scanned via the XHG mobile phone app to demonstrate the recycling process and determine a method of transaction.
The XHG smart recycling machine analyzes the weight of disposed of material and classifies solid waste according to five main categories: plastic, paper, textiles, glass and metal. After users dispose of their recyclable material, transaction funds appear in the XHG mobile phone app according to the latest market prices. XHG uses big data operation platforms to supervise user management and collect data on geographical recycling habits.
Once a machine reaches full capacity, a full-time recycling staff collects the waste with high-grade waste disposal vehicles. Each recycling machine includes a warning light to signify a full load. Additional information on load capacity is found in the XHG mobile phone app. The XHG smart recycling machine includes additional AI design features such as:
- Auto Recognition
- GPS Tracking
- Automatic Disinfection
- 24 Hour Camera Monitors
- LED Night Lights
Plastic Pollution in China
Low and middle-income countries experience significant increases in plastic waste production due to rapid population growth and economic development. Thus, China leads global plastic production rates with 60 million tons of plastic production as of 2010. Mismanaged or inadequately disposed of plastic waste is often dumped, burned or lost in the natural environment. China’s 74% plastic waste mismanagement rate poses a threat to human and environmental health. The effects of plastic waste mismanagement include:
- Respiratory complications
- Inadequate sewage and sanitation
- Soil and water contamination
- Diarrheal disease
- Air pollution
- Breeding grounds for vectors of disease
Disproportionate Effect on the Urban Poor
Waste management disproportionately affects the low-income urban population, resulting from reduced access to waste services and an insignificant influence on methods of waste disposal. Chinese urban areas are subject to waste mismanagement due to increased population density and decreased access to waste disposal sites. According to the World Bank, only one-third of the total solid waste is collected in low-income urban neighborhoods.
XHG plans to improve the lives of Chinese residents and decrease waste mismanagement by providing monetary incentives to recycling. So far, XHG reduced approximately 60 million pounds of waste incineration and more than 112 million pounds of landfill waste.
Recycling systems are beneficial in low and middle-income urban areas because they reduce waste mismanagement and prevent significant rises in pollution rates. In addition to decreasing China’s ecological footprint, XHG smart recycling machines also improves the national economy. It does so by providing job opportunities and increasing access to domestic recycled materials.
The World Bank expects global waste generation to rise to approximately 3.4 billion tons by 2050. The World Bank also stated the significance of multi-level cooperation in waste mismanagement reduction. “Unmanaged and improperly managed waste from decades of economic growth requires urgent action at all levels of society.” XHG is paving the way for technological advances toward proper waste management systems in China.
– Madeline Zuzevich