Beijing faces big problem in sorting garbage

Anybody sorts garbage?

As mentioned in my book Toxic Capitalism, we have a big problem in sorting garbage in Beijing, and probably everywhere in China.
Despite the good intentions of the city to provide some marked garbage containers to every household in some buildings, few people do sort garbage and even if they do, the recyclers jump on the building’s garbage containers to remove whatever they are interested in. While that is not that bad, they start messing up the containers and anyway, once the garbage is collected it ends up all together.

Beijing admits a defeat

See article dated 8 November 2016 “Why, after 16 years, is it still so difficult to sort garbage?”, by China Daily:
China Daily article
I quote the full article as it lays bare the problem:

The Beijing Municipal Commission of City Management recently said that some communities will pioneer garbage sorting, with the household waste being collected at different times of the day according to the type of trash it is. However, as Beijing Youth Daily points out, Beijing has been listed as a pioneer city for garbage sorting for 16 years and little progress has been made:
Some communities complain that their residents know little about how to sort garbage. If that’s true, it is really sad news because Beijing was listed as one of eight pioneering cities for garbage sorting in 2000. Why is it so difficult for residents to sort garbage 16 years after it became a policy?
It is unfair to say the government has done nothing. On the contrary, the municipal governments of the eight cities have invested heavily in improving the hardware. In Beijing, Shanghai, and Nanjing, as well as the other five pioneer cities, garbage bins for sorting purposes can be seen in communities. However, people simply put their garbage in them without sorting it.
There are two main problems. First, the municipal governments have not done enough to educate people about how to sort their garbage and what kind of waste should be put into which garbage bin. People have been asked to sort garbage, but nobody has actually shown them how to sort it or explained why it is important for them to do so.
Second, the waste management authorities do not take the matter seriously, either. Even when households do sort their garbage, when the trash trucks come the garbage is simply mixed together and transported away.
Further, the garbage processing industrial chain is far from complete. Most, if not all, of the garbage collected from communities will be burnt or buried, instead of being recycled.
So the solution lies in raising residents’ awareness of the importance of garbage sorting, more strictly ensuring the garbage collectors keep the garbage sorted, and encouraging more people to join the recycling industry. Only with comprehensive measures will garbage sorting become a success.

Worse: toxic waste

If there is a big problem in sorting garbage, worse is how to dispose of “toxic waste”, as I also mentioned in my book.
Toxic waste here: batteries of all kind and printer ink cartridges, just to name the ones I have again collected over the years.
Problem is simple: there is no place to dispose of it. I asked my (Chinese) wife and she also has no idea. Even if there are some isolated collection boxes in supermarkets (never seen any anyway!), they are too small to dispose of the cartridges. As for the energy-saving lamps, I have given up since long and throw them in the garbage. In our compound we do not have any special containers anyway.
So, Beijing citizens and your children, be warned:
“I will soon let you bury my toxic waste into your landfills to pollute the environment for your kids.”
Sorry, no other solution.

China confirms global warming

Studies confirm global warming

In a 11 November 2016 China Daily article “Study notes threat of global warming”, China confirms global warming.

Some excerpts:
Temperatures and sea levels will rise, while heat waves are set to become more frequent and deadly.
An international team of researchers studied the impact of global climate change that has occurred in the past few decades as a result of human activities, and found that a global increase in temperature of 1 degree Celsius has already had a significant affect on a wide range of basic biological processes, from genes to ecosystems.
Source: Center for Integrative Conservation at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden.
There have also been noticeable changes in marine fish catches, with commercially important species moving north as the oceans get warmer. Freshwater fish have also been affected, and the impact of global climate change has mostly been negative.
Climate change doesn’t only affect temperatures. Changes in rainfall are more difficult to predict, but some places will get wetter and some drier. Sea levels will continue to rise and the oceans will become more acidic as they absorb carbon dioxide from the air. Heat waves will be more frequent and more deadly.
The research conclusion was reached after studying hundreds of previously published scientific papers. The scientists identified a set of core ecological processes and assessed the already observed impacts of climate change on each one.
The research systematically evaluated the impact of climate change on different species on Earth. It aims to make people more aware of the urgent need for reductions of carbon emissions, and give decision-makers a better understanding of the impact of global warming.
While the first 1 degree Celsius rise in temperature took a century, the next will only take a few decades.”

Global warming a challenge for country’s crops

By China Daily, 18 August 2016

Extreme weather patterns, pests and diseases are impacting food security in China and the world, according to experts at the 7th International Crop Science Congress being hosted in Beijing this week. Earth’s overall temperature rose by about 0.75 C over the last century, according to Zhang Weijian, the chief scientist of agro-ecology at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

Trump and his hoax claim

Among the many election absurdities of Trump, his claim that China invented global warming stands out. China told him flatly it actually was initiated by Republican predecessors (who were a little more clever).
“China tells Trump that climate change is not a hoax” – 18 November 2016
US President-elect claims climate change a hoax invented by the Chinese

China couldn’t have invented global warming as a hoax to harm US competitiveness because it was Donald Trump’s Republican predecessors who started climate negotiations in the 1980s, China’s Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin said.
US Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush supported the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in initiating global warming talks even before China knew that negotiations to cut pollution were starting, Liu told reporters at United Nations talks on Wednesday in Marrakech, Morocco.

I like one of the comments:
“Probably we also haven’t been on the moon and Elvis is still alive, anyone in his right mind who denies that climate change is happening should loose his right as an adult to vote.”

Waste of containers for food supplements

Food supplements containers

Here in the video I show some of the containers for food supplements that most of us have at home. The same can be said of containers for medicine and a variety of other products.
The point is, the vast majority of the containers are filled typically 30 to 50%, misleading the consumer but also wasting materials and contributing to waste.
See (VPN needed)(

Packaging, too often a huge waste

In the beginning of the clip, I show another source of waste: excessive packaging – also mentioned in my book.
The problem is now further made worse with another trend: online purchases delivered at home. In China we see an enormous amount of waste due to packing done by the delivery service: carton, tape, bubble paper and other.

160416-packagingSee the figures in China. Astonishing.

Chinese air purifying machines

Chinese air purifying machines: many “choices”

I never buy a Chinese air purifying machine but sometimes we get them as a present. I also tested the cheap Xiaomi machine in a friend’s house (cost: something like under 900 RMB).
The machines we really use are IQAir and AMWAY.


Yesterday we got a new machine, the “ZB-801” (no English name found). As the pollution levels were climbing we decided to open the box and see what it could achieve. Inside the house we had AQI around 220, using the excellent LaserEgg from Origins.
I decided to test the two Chinese air purifying machines. Well, results were worse than expected.

The ZB-801 delivered air at just above AQI 150. Also that machine is not user-friendly as it always switches off instead of working constantly.
The older machine, a brand called DEERMA, was even worse, delivering AQI above 160.  Their slogan “The best choice for your healthy breath” is obviously a sick joke.
The test with the Swiss-made IQAir showed the real thing: the output went immediately down to 4, which actually is zero according to Origins.

So, if you need a machine against the Beijing pollution, buy a LaserEgg to check the real condition (and adjust the speed) and a quality machine such as IQAir, AMWAY, BlueAir and alike.
Throw out the Chinese junk.

The cheap Xiaomi: it seemed actually to perform a bit better, delivering AQI below 50. But is is suitable for small spaces only and cannot constantly work at its higher speed.
I guess using a big fan with a good HEPA filter taped to it is better and cheaper.
The Chinese consumer industry has a long way to go…

Wegwerpcultuur: Zweden wil reparaties meebetalen


Ja ik denk ze hebben mijn boek gelezen (Toxic Capitalism). Men koopt teveel (rommel), gebruikt het slecht en werpt het weg bij het minste “probleem”. Bij ons komen de Repair Cafes verder op, een prachtig initiatief:

Mensen zijn al te lui om hun koffietoestel te ontkalken… Gooien het weg…

Weg met de wegwerpcultuur: Zweden wil reparaties meebetalen (03/10/2016)

Reparaties tegen Wergwerpcultuur

Wat is goedkoper: je oude schoenen laten herstellen of een nieuw paar kopen? In onze huidige maatschappij met haar massaproductie is het duidelijke antwoord helaas vaak dat laatste. Zweden wil dat nu echter tegengaan door de belastingen op herstellingen te verlagen.

China’s e-waste recycling app goes global

E-waste recycling in China

China is one of the largest producers and recipients of e-waste in the world. According to a recycling industry report released by the Ministry of Commerce in May 2016, e-waste items recycled in China in 2015 alone amounted to 152.74 million pieces.

The cover of my book Toxic Capitalism shows the arrival yard of one of the few e-waste recycling factories around Beijing. As I describe in my book, the recycling industry in China might be big but is also contributing to more damage to the environment.
Another related issue is ‘toxic waste” such as batteries, ink cartridges and alike. In Beijing I did not find a way to properly dispose of it, as mentioned in my book.

Seminar on e-waste recycling

See the full story here (August 2016):

Participants from over 13 countries have come together to learn from China’s experience in managing the mounting e-waste recycling challenge, and be inspired by China’s e-waste management systems, practices, disposal and treatment technologies and how these can be applied and replicated throughout the world.
To discuss this challenge, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) together with the Foreign Economic Cooperation Office under the Ministry of Environmental Protection, developed a three-day workshop to share experience and knowledge with government representatives, private sector companies and academia. Participants will visit a dismantling factory in Tianjin, alongside learning about the Innovative Baidu Recycle App, launched by UNDP China and internet giant Baidu.

The pioneering Baidu Recycle App, uses an innovative model of connecting consumers, dismantlers and manufactures together using an efficient and user friendly smartphone app. The user can find out a price and recycle their electronic products using a nearby legitimate e-waste pick-up services, helping to simplify the recycling process and cut down on informal recycling stations.

OK to be honest I still don’t know much about this app – and it probably in Chinese only…

Floating wind farms, a potential to be explored

Wind farms are not always popular

People complain about pollution, about nuclear, about so many things. But when efforts are made to promote sustainable energy such as through wind farms, people again complain. It is “disturbing the landscape”. So, we should also destroy the windmills in Belgium and Holland?

I personally don’t feel “offended” by wind turbines, they are rather elegant. The complaints about noise and hurting birds are also exaggerated. If people love birds then they should not have windows because many birds fly right into those, being misled by the reflection. Just recently a lovely bird crashed into my Beijing window. I tried to take care of it but I am afraid its legs were paralyzed and it would not recover.

Floating wind farms

A newer technology, offshore floating wind farms might accommodate some of the complaints.
See interesting article:
Offshore Wind Farms See Promise in Platforms That Float
By Diane Cardwell, NYT 29 September 2016:

What are floating wind farms?

Right now, almost all offshore wind turbines require fixed platforms built into the seafloor. Floating turbines, with anchors, would mean new flexibility in where wind farms could be placed, with potentially less impact on marine life. Also, less opposition from the human neighbors on shore.
Developers can locate the farms farther out at sea, where they would not be visible from land, and their anchoring mechanisms have a smaller, more flexible footprint than the embedded foundations of conventional wind turbines. That could result in less environmental disturbance and easier transportation and installation.

Conventional offshore wind developments, with foundations deep beneath the ocean floor, are increasingly common in Europe. But partly because of public opposition, fixed offshore turbines are just starting in the United States, with the first such farm set to begin operation by November near Rhode Island.
Statoil, the Norwegian oil and gas giant, is already developing what could become the first commercial-scale floating wind farm, off the coast of Scotland.
Trident Winds, a company based in Seattle, is pursuing a federal lease to install about 100 turbines more than 30 miles out from Morro Bay on the central California coast.

With the floating concept, you can use the same turbine everywhere, so you can see the potential for mass production. The beauty of this is, every 20 years — which is typically when the turbine reaches the end of its life — you can tow this back to shore, put a new turbine on and take it back.

Read the full story in the NYT.

Viability of carbon capture and storage

Canadian Embassy event

The Embassy of Canada organized another “Canada in Conversation” event on the viability of carbon capture and storage. The seminar was chaired by Ms. Cindy Termorshuizen, Chargé d’Affaires of the Embassy.
It took place on 22 September 2016 at the Embassy.
The Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall gave a keynote address and participated in a panel discussion featuring Mike Monea, SaskPower’s President of Carbon Capture and Storage Initiatives, along with Chinese experts, chaired by Ms. Xu Qinhua of Renmin University.
A networking reception at the Official Residence followed the panel discussion.

Background on carbon capture and storage

Coal is an energy source that generates about 40% of the world’s electricity and about 25% of its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. As global population increases and developing countries continue to industrialize and increase their standard of living, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions will continue to rise. It is critical to find ways to reduce GHGs and mitigate the impacts of climate change, while ensuring sustainable economic growth.

One key option for the near term is carbon capture and storage (CCS), a technology that can capture, transport and safely store up to 90% of the CO2 emissions produced from coal and other fossil fuels in electricity generation and industrial processes – and stop it from entering the atmosphere.

Current CCS projects underway in the province of Saskatchewan, including the world’s first post-combustion coal-fired CCS project integrated with a power station, are positioning Canada as a global leader in turning the corner on climate change and developing clean technologies that recognize dependencies on energy derived from fossil fuels.

See the introduction of the event: 160922-canada-invitation

See here the previous session I had attended:
Embassy of Canada: a view on the Arctic:

Carbon capture and storage: a Canadian success story

The presentation was pretty convincing, many like me are not always convinced underground storage works, the CO2 does not filter back to the service and it is economically doable.
Of course the Canadian project has some great advantages to make it work. They sell the gas to oil companies – who pay money – so they can use it to maximize oil recovery from their wells. And as Mike Monea explained, the oil wells work as perfect seals to keep the gas underground. Only a rather small part of the carbon is stored by the power plant.
There was a great interest from the Chinese side: I was one of the very few “foreigners” in the audience.

Details on the carbon capture and storage project

The full report:
‘IEAGHG, “Integrated Carbon Capture and Storage Project at SaskPower’s Boundary Dam Power Station”, 2015/0 , August 2015’
The full report was given to all participants received during the seminar: (85.3 MB):
IEA GHG_BoundaryDamReport_English.pdf

Their website:

Details of the power plant:

Creative recycling can be fun

Creative recycling can be cute, fun and useful.

See some images I collected from different corners.
They prove recycling can be more fun than just sorting out the trash in five different bags.

Be creative, look around and think a bit before throwing out stuff.

Wave energy, less well known

Wave energy in the world

By some estimates, the ocean’s endless motion packs enough power to meet a quarter of America’s energy needs. But wave energy technology lags well behind wind and solar power, with important technical hurdles still to be overcome.
See here the full article:
America’s First Wave-Produced Power Goes Online in Hawaii (19 September 2016)
By Cathy Bussewitz, Associated Press

Developers are still working to come up with the best design. Some buoys capture the up-and-down motion of the waves, while others exploit the side-to-side movement. Industry experts say a machine that uses all the ocean’s movements is most likely to succeed.
Also, the machinery has to be able to withstand powerful storms, the constant pounding of the seas and the corrosive effects of saltwater.
Wave energy technology is at about the same stage as the solar and wind industries were in the 1980s.
it is said the USA are a decade behind Europe. The European Marine Energy Centre in Scotland, for example, has 14 grid-connected berths that have housed dozens of wave and tidal energy devices from around the world over the past 13 years, and Wave Hub in England has several such berths. China, too, has been building and testing dozens of units at sea.

But while the U.S. government and military have put about US$334 million into marine energy research over the past decade, Britain and the rest of Europe have invested more than $1 billion, according to the Marine Energy Council, a trade group.

Wave energy in Hawaii

The U.S. Navy has established a test site in Hawaii, in Kaneohe Bay with hopes the technology can someday be used to produce clean, renewable power for offshore fueling stations for the fleet and provide electricity to coastal communities in fuel-starved places around the world.
Hawaii would seem a natural site for such technology. It is blessed with powerful waves.

Jose Zayas, a director of the Wind and Water Power Technologies Office at the U.S. Energy Department, which helps fund the Hawaii site, said the United States could get 20 to 28% of its energy needs from waves without encroaching on sensitive waters such as marine preserves.

Though small in scale, the test project near Kaneohe Bay represents the vanguard of U.S. wave energy development. It consists of two buoys anchored a half-mile to a mile offshore.
One of them, the Azura, which extends 12 feet above the surface and 50 feet below, converts the waves’ vertical and horizontal movements into up to 18 KW of electricity. The company involved, Northwest Energy Innovations of Portland, Oregon, plans a version that can generate at least 500 KW.