Reuters blog archive

from Photographers' Blog:

Garbage recycling: Chinese style

Beijing, China

By Kim Kyung-Hoon

When I heard that the rate of recycling PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic bottles in China is almost 90%, I was surprised. Because I have noticed since moving to Beijing that the Chinese have no real concept of separating trash for recycling.

So, how do they accomplish it?

The first place I visited in tracking down the recycling process of PET bottles was Asia’s largest recycling factory, INCOM Resources Recovery in Beijing, which processes 50,000 tons of used PET bottles every year. In this factory, abandoned plastic bottles are transformed into clean PET plastic material for making new bottles. But what struck me the most was neither its automated machinery nor its huge piles of compressed plastic bottles stacked almost to the height of a two-story building. The more remarkable fact was that this high-end facility relies on thousands of garbage collectors rummaging through trash cans for more than one third of its supplies

The important role of this cheap labor in China’s recycling industry was apparent when I visited one of the estimated 20,000 small recycling depots on the outskirts of the capital. Different types of plastic garbage turned in by refuse collectors is sold to the recycling centers where it is converted into money after backbreaking work by the workers in the centers. Sitting next to the mountain of plastic bottles, the low-paid laborers are too busy to find time to breathe while removing labels from the bottles and separating them according to type of material.

Most workers in the recycling depots are migrant workers from rural areas who have come to the city to look for industrial jobs and higher income, but their weary life seemed little different than their previous existence in their hometowns.

from Global Investing:

There’s cash in that trash

There's cash in that trash.

Analysts at Bank of America/Merrill Lynch are expounding opportunities to profit from the burgeoning waste disposal industry, which it estimates at $1 trillion at present but says could double within the next decade. They have compiled a list of more than 80 companies which may benefit most from the push for recycling waste, generating energy from biomass and building facilities to process or reduce waste. It's an industry that is likely to grow exponentially as incomes rise, especially in emerging economies, BofA/ML says in a note:

We believe that the global dynamics of waste volumes mean that waste management offers numerous opportunities for those with exposure to the value chain. We see opportunities across waste management, industrial treatment, waste-to-energy, wastewater & sewage,...recycling, and sustainable packaging among other areas.

from Shop Talk:

Wash less, line dry, donate!

stampEver think about what happens to your jeans after you're done with them? Levi Strauss has, and the company wants to avoid having them end up in a landfill.

The jeans giant is partnering with Goodwill and adding a message on its product care tag that reminds people to donate old clothing.

from Environment Forum:

Turning your kitchen scraps into clean energy

Earlier this month, I toured a Waste Management landfill in Simi Valley, California as part of our series on how companies are turning household garbage and other waste into clean electricity. For our full coverage, click here.

The landfill, which is about 40 miles north of downtown Los Angeles, surprised me at first because it didn't smell and the 300 feet of trash was covered in dirt and grass. It looked just like an ordinary hillside.