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Extended Essay Producing a Recycling Plan that is Efficient for China Candidate Name: Yuup Raoul Jean Marie van Engelshoven Candidate Number: 002763-025 School: Shanghai American School, Pudong Campus Examination Session: May 2010 Subject: Design Technology Word Count: 3,915

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This essay investigates the research question, what kind of efficient recycling plan can be designed for a common household within the Chinese population so that there is an effective way to recycle. The investigation starts off by showing the problems that exist within China. After this, data was collected from three different households. This data shows how much waste would be dealt with and the best way to go about handling the amount of waste while designing the recycling process. The research also provides how long it takes for certain materials to decompose. With the research that was found; a design process was created which is simple and could be effective if followed. This would reduce the amount of waste that is created by China, which could help solve some of the environmental problems they are being created. The recycling plan starts off at a home, where the Chinese families divide up the trash into different containers or bags, after this the trash is brought to a disposal site where the different wastes are put into different containers which correspond with the containers or bags they divided the trash up at home. From the disposal site the containers are brought via trucks to either recycling facilities or landfills where there are waste-toenergy plants. Within this process jobs are created, because the Chinese government already sponsors people who bring back trash and if this sponsorship can happen at these disposable sites a motive will be created for the Chinese people to recycle. This recycling plan will help the Chinese preserve the environment and take a step forward into sustainable development.

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Page of Content: Abstract Identification of the Problem Indication of the Problem Formulating a Brief Selecting Variables Research Primary Data Secondary Data Data processing and Analysis Development Evaluation Work Cited 2 4 6 9 11 12 12 20 22 23 29 31

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Identification of the Problem:

The purpose for this design, which falls under green design, is designing a recycling plan is so that in every household a recycling system is in place that is effective, efficient and will take a step forward to protecting the environment. This system will focus on Chinese households. The main issue with the systems right now is that they are not always simple and the knowledge of recyclable material is not always presented. Being able to design a system that is effective will benefit the environmental issues that exist. Even though this is an end-of-pipe solution, once a recycling system is in place the materials will keep on getting recycled making this a cycle instead of an end-of-pipe solution. In Shanghai which has its developed parts and still developing parts in the city, recycling in ones home is barely done. The garbage is thrown into piles right out side the city and burned or ends up lying in massive dumpsites. Finding a solution to simply recycle garbage for a house hold of 1-4 people will help reduce the waste that is produced because Shanghai has invested a lot of money into recycling plants the main issue is that the stages where products are thrown out do not always make it to the plants. There is a big recycling culture in China; however the motivation is money not a care for the environment. As Charlie McElwee states, who is an international energy & environmental lawyer,

China may not recycle in the color-coded trash bin way of progressive cities in the US, but that does not mean it is not reusing its trash. Just about any waste product with a residual value in China is retrieved, sorted, and reused or

5 002763-025 van Engelshoven reprocessed. The people involved in this work are not motivated by environmental concerns, but by a desire to make a kuai. Motivations aside, without a doubt China has more of a recycling culture than the US.1

The materials that are only being recycled are the ones where money can be made off of. So with a recycling system in a household; where things can easily be sorted so that everything will be recycled it will help take a step forward in protecting the environment.

McElwee, Charlie. "Recycling in China." China Environmental Law. 14 Aug. 2009. Web. 23 Sept. 2009. <>.

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Indication of the Problem:

The main visible indication of the problem that there is a lack of a recycling in China is seen just by living there. In Shanghai the problem of waste management and recycling is obviously seen. There are places just outside of the center of the city where some of the trash is brought. In these places nothing is sorted it is just dumped and workers are paid to go through the trash and take out things that can be recycled. The issues with this strategy are:

1. Recyclable waste that lies on the bottom of the pile will not be recycled. 2. Health and safety hazards for the workers 3. Workers arent educated in what can and cannot be recycled 4. The process is not efficient; more waste comes in then can be sorted through 5. The bad smells are over whelming

Figure 1, Waste Thrown Outside of Shanghai, arbage_dumps/image/006_shanghai_trash.jpg

7 002763-025 van Engelshoven The waste that isnt recycled in China is either left in massive landfills or waste treatment plants. Chen Yong, director of Beijing Municipal Management Administration, says that All Beijing's landfills are jammed and causing pollution problems. Before they fill up, we must find a solution. We need to adopt waste incineration as soon as possible.2 With all of the landfills being jammed there are great risks of wastewater or toxic gas leaks2 according to Wang ru. With these environmental issues that could affect the population there is a serious need to rethink the way waste is recycled and dumped into landfills.

Figure 2, Landfill outside the City of Beijing,

The Chinese government has resorted into making waste-to-energy facilities, the problem with this is that it takes On average, it takes one tonne of garbage to create the heat energy in 500 pounds of coal3 according to Businessforum China. Another problem with this is that it releases toxic gases, which can cause cancer and damage the health of the Chinese people. This solution to waste may be helpful to the economy by producing energy from waste the main issue with this is it isnt

Ru, Wang. "The burning issue." China Daily 28 July 2009: 7-7. China Daily. China Daily Information Co, 28 July 2009. Web. 23 Sept. 2009. 3 "The burn factor - Waste to Energy." BusinessForum China. Imprint. Web. 27 Sept. 2009. <>.

8 002763-025 van Engelshoven sustainable. The release of toxins would ruin more of the environment and a simple solution of a recycling process in every house hold waste could be reduce the amount of toxic gases are sent into the air by the waste-to-energy facilities. This would benefit the health of the Chinese people and help the environment.

Figure 3, Waste being burned in China,

Even the United Nations has recognized the massive amounts of waste that is created by china, as the BBC News states China's problems in human waste disposal are massive, and the country is seen by the UN as crucial to helping it meet the Millennium Development Goal of halving the proportion of the world's population without access to basic sanitation4. Not only is there a waste concern of massive disposal but waste is being dumped into the rivers which causes the spread of diseases. The issues are effecting both the environment and the Chinese population.

BBC News. "China's waste breakthrough." BBC News. BBC MMX, 18 Mar. 2003. Web. 3 Dec. 2009. <>.

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Formulating a Brief
The main goal of this project will be to create a system that can be used in every Chinese household. So it will be created for a household no bigger than 1-4 people. Since the one child policy no family can be bigger than 3 people however there are exceptions so no one family unit can be bigger than 4. The result of this recycling process should be that more items are recycled in a common Chinese household. This should impact the massive dumping of waste and minimize it and the effects it has on the environment. Target markets are households and not restaurants or big companies. The reason for this is that measuring the amount of waste that is used by restaurants or big companies is harder to collect. This recycling system should work all over China, every person should be able to use it when they go home and throw things out. The major constraints that this product will face: o Telling everyone about this system o There is a lack of communication in China sometimes because of how big china is. Also another reason for a lack of communication is that there are two main spoken languages in China and hundreds of dialects which make communication even harder in China. o Educating the people why it is important o Education is provided for every child up until 12-13 which is usually the end of middle school. With this little time required for the Chinese population to go to school, recycling is not part of the curriculum because it does not seem to be important to teach the children about the protection of the environment.

10 002763-025 van Engelshoven o Finding ways to enforce the system

The system may need to be enforced for people to actually do it. Big parts of the Chinese people still live in poverty; the standard of living is not very high. So why would they start recycling if the government cannot even take care of its own people.

These constraints will present issues in the recycling system that is being developed. By knowing the constraints ahead of time, some of the issues can be factored into the process.

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Selecting Variables:

This system will be successful if it full fills this criterion: 1. Needs to be simple a. This means that the process needs to be easy to set up. There is no extreme amount of work that will be needed to set up the recycling process in the home and any other place something needs to be set up. Also when the system is used it does not take a long time to figure out where wastes and materials go. 2. Efficiency will be measured by how fast rubbish can be sorted a. The system must be efficient enough to use that when people sort through their trash or throw away they can put it where it needs to be without a hassle. The trash cans or bags whatever the system will use be will need to be close enough together that when trash is being sorted there is no problem in finding the correct bag or trash can the trash needs to go into. 3. The different items that need to be recycled can be brought to a recycling plant a. After the trash has been sorted the system should make it easy for different items to be thrown away and brought to recycling facility 4. Every type of house hold can adapt to the recycling system a. No matter what the living conditions are, the system adapt so that every house will be able to acquire the system. This means from homes to apartment buildings the system can be used. It is important that everyone no matter the living conditions will be able to recycle all of their waste.

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Primary Data:
Data was collect to see the amount of waste produced from three different households recorded in weekly increments.

Figure 4, Amount of Waste produced in Different households

Week Number Personal Home (Weight in Kg) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Total: 16.5 13.7 15.1 16.3 14.5 18.6 16.3 15.7 18.9 19.1 14.3 16.8 195.8 Friends Home (Weight in Kg) Local Chineses Home (Weight in Kg) 8.4 6.5 8.2 7.7 7.8 9.2 8.2 5.8 7.9 6.3 6.4 8.6 91

12.5 14.7 10.5 9.8 8.3 12.6 15.8 11.4 13.3 7.9 12.4 10.8 140

From this table a chart is created to visually represent the differences in the amount of waste that is produced.

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In the chart above, figure 5, it can be seen how much trash is produced in different house holds. Take for example in my home it creates more trash than my friends family and the local Chinese home. It is important to notice that even though my household produces more waste it is relatively constant over the 12 week period just like the other two homes. The next step is to split the waste in categories to see what can be recycled and what can not be recycled. In this data collection the wastes are split up into plastics, metals, paper and wastes, which is all the other materials that do not fall under plastics, metals or paper. In the table below the weight is split between Plastics, metals, paper and the rest of the waste that cannot be recycled.

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Figure 6, Amount of Waste produced in Personal home

Week 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Total: Plastics (weight in kg) 3.7 4.8 2.8 3.1 4.2 3.6 3.7 4.2 2.9 4.2 3.4 4.1 44.7 Metals (weight in kg) 1.9 2.2 2.5 1.7 1.3 1.7 2.2 1.4 1.8 1.5 1.2 2.4 21.8 Paper (weight in kg) 5.6 3.4 6.7 3.3 5.8 4.9 5.3 4.2 6.3 6.1 3.4 6.6 61.6 Waste (weight in kg) 5.3 3.3 3.1 8.2 3.2 8.4 5.1 5.9 7.9 7.3 6.3 3.7 66.7

This data is then turned into a chart which will visually show which wastes are most commonly thrown out.

15 002763-025 van Engelshoven Analyzing the chart above it can be seen that the amount of waste that cannot be recycled varies greatest from week to week. The recyclable materials do not vary greatly week to week. Using this data a pie chart was created to show the total amount of waste that was thrown out and there percentages.

From the chart above it can be seen that paper and waste are big contributors to waste. While the rest of the data has not been assessed it can be seen that a major part of the waste ends up in landfills because 34% of the waste produced cannot be recycled which brings it to a landfill. If such a large chunk is already brought to landfills and not everything is recycled, it becomes obvious why the landfills are at their max capacity. The rest of the data will be presented in the method of table first, then the chart which represents this data. The pie chart will be shown last to show the amount of total waste that is produced in each category.

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Figure 9, Amount of Waste produced in Peers home

Week 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Total: Plastics 1.2 .7 1.3 1.7 1.2 2.1 .7 .8 1.3 1.3 .4 2.6 15.3 Metals .2 0 .4 0 .6 0 0 0 .2 .7 .5 0 2.6 Paper 5.8 4.4 3.3 5.6 3.8 4.9 6.3 5.1 7.4 4.5 6.3 5.2 62.6 Waste 5.3 9.6 3.5 2.5 2.7 5.6 8.8 5.5 4.4 3.4 5.2 4 60.5

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Figure 12, Amount of Waste produced in Local Chineses Home

Week 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Total: Plastics 1.2 2.3 2.6 1.4 2.7 .3 1.6 1.7 2.3 1.4 1.3 1.6 20.4 Metals 0 .2 0 0 0 .2 0 0 .2 .2 0 0 .8 Paper 4.5 3.2 4.6 4.7 3.5 5.3 2.4 3.7 5.4 3.7 4.8 5.2 51 Waste 2.7 .8 1 1.6 1.6 3.4 4.2 .4 .9 1 .3 1.8 19.7

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19 002763-025 van Engelshoven The Data that was collected shows a good indication that at least more than half of the products that are thrown out can be recycled. With this information it is known that at least half of the waste can be reduced due to recycling. In all three of the households the data shows that non recyclable wastes are never more than half of the total wastes. The charts also indicate that paper is a main material that is thrown out in a Chinese home, not only is it a main material in a Chinese home but also in my personal home and friends home. This makes the need to recycle paper a big, which means for the recycling process that paper needs a lot of facilities that can process paper so it can be recycled at the rate of incoming paper. Plastic is also a main material that is thrown out in all three households. This makes it another important recyclable material because it takes long to decompose and has a lot of harmful effects on the environment. So in the process it needs to be stressed that plastics need to be recycled. The Chinese government has spent billions of dollars on creating facilities where plastic is recycled. The Chinese government gives .1 RMB for every bottle that is brought to the plastic recycling facilities. Metals arent used in the day to day life except for drink-cans which are pretty popular. Cans are made out of aluminum and a lot of technology and research has gone into recycling cans because of the value aluminum has and it being a scarce resource. All other metals that are most commonly found on a daily bases in a household are food-cans. These cans have thicker metal and arent made out of aluminum but this doesnt mean they cannot be recycled. They have their scrap metal yards where these metals are recycled. These plants differ from aluminum recycling facilities.

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Secondary Data:

The data that was collected was pretty close to what the Chinese Trade in Service Predicted. Chinese Trade in Service says that Beijing had 16 million of permanent residents last year, the average amount of domestic garbage per person was 400 kilograms5 If the primary datas average total weight in a year was calculated the average would almost be the same for my the local Chineses data. According to a chart about decomposition by Christiane Dorion in her book Earths Garbage Crisis, she has listed a couple of normal house wastes and estimated the time it takes for it to decompose.

Figure 15, Table of How Long it Takes for Materials to Decompose6

Materials Cans Cardboard Cigarettes Disposable diapers Fruits and vegetables Glass bottles and jars Paper Plastic bottles Motor oil Example of decomposing time Eighty to one hundred years Several months to five years Twelve to forty years One hundred years to never Six months to two years Never Five months to fifty years Fifty to one hundred years to never Ten to thirty years

"Average domestic garbage per capita reached 400kg in 2008." China Trade in Service. Beijing E-Business Hi-tech Technology Co., Ltd. Web. 27 Sept. 2009. <>. 6 Dorion, Christiane. Earth's Garbage Crisis (What If We Do Nothing?). Chicago: World Almanac Library, 2007. Print.

21 002763-025 van Engelshoven The Table above shows just how long it takes for solid wastes to decompose. With this information it shows that there is a high reason for why a recycling system is needed to be found and that landfills arent the answer because most of them were created during the industrial up growth of china and non of them are hold enough to have decomposed cans or plastic bottles. This piece of information helps to show that recycling will be a key to helping chinas environmental problem. China has taken a step to being a more environmental country by making shoppers pay for plastic bags they get from stores. Also according to Christiane Dorion she states that,

China offers tax breaks to companies that recycle waste or use recycled products. China has recently put a tax on disposable chopsticks, sold in billions every year, to reduce waste and the use of timber. Taxes have been raised on luxury items such as yachts, large cars, and wooden floor panels

This shows that china is making a step forward to improving the environment, but most of the house hold wastes have not been taken care of and still get dumped into landfills which are now at an over capacity.

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Data Processing and Analysis

The Data above shows from both secondary sources and primary sources that the problem of waste can be helped if recycling is taken place. Most of the items that are clogging up the landfills are materials that do not decompose easily. Landfills are not being clogged up by thrown away pieces of food but by cans and plastics which either takes centuries to decompose or lie around forever. This problem could be solved if all of the times were recycled. Which would make less need for production of plastics; this will also help the environment by not having to mine for as much raw materials that make up plastics. The data shows less than half of the waste that is thrown out cannot be recycled under the materials that were selected. If the waste was broken down even further including glasses and other waste this amount would decrease even further. So the data supports the idea of creating a recycling plan because it will limit the amount of waste that is brought to landfills. This will help protect the environment and help China gain sustainable development.

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To get any ideas going about the design of this recycling system some initials ideas were need to be created first via some brainstorming.

Steel Aluminum cans Foil Iron

Bottles Juice Boxes

Green Glass White Glass Brown Glass

Fruit Vegetables Garden waste Meat

Recyclable Material

Cardboard News papers White paper Mixed Paper

Alkaline Heavy Duty Rechargeable

Computers Refrigerators Heat Pumps Air Conditioners

Figure 16, Brainstorming about Recyclable Materials

This brain storm session shows all the materials that can be recycled specifically. This list shows that a lot of the day to day items that are used daily, the recycling system that is being designed will target the main day to day wastes and materials. Which are paper, metals and plastics. The brainstorming session does

24 002763-025 van Engelshoven present a great concern about appliances like refrigerators. However they are not recycled everyday and with eco-labeling they can be stripped apart and separated into recyclable and non-recyclable materials. To find an affective system that could be used another brainstorm session took place.

Outside big garbage containers recyclable and non recyclable Health Hazards

Inside sorting garbage containers

Selfmotivation to recycle

All trash is brought and gets sorted

Home Garbage dividing

Creates Awareness

Recycling Facilities

Recycling Systems


Trash is brought all ready sorted

Everything is brought to a massive landfill


High participation rate Creates jobs

People need easy access to drop off wastes

Massive impacts on environment and health hazards for the people

Figure 17, Brainstorming about Recycling Systems

The next step is to create a process which will fall under the entire criterion that was stated before hand and use the ideas that came from the brainstorming session in figure 17 to create the process.

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System Process:

Image 1, page_produk_bseller.php

Image 2,


Image 3, Metals Plastics The trash should be sorted at the home into different bags or containers for different types of trash.


26 002763-025 van Engelshoven Then the trash is brought to a disposal site for all four types of waste: 1. Paper 2. Plastics 3. Metal 4. Non- recyclable wastes

Image 4, At this step of the process all the waste and recyclable materials are thrown into their separate waste containers. At this step of the process even though it is in the middle of the process there are pictures on each of the containers to show what types of materials go into each bin, this is important for the education of what materials can be recycled.

27 002763-025 van Engelshoven After all the trash has been sorted into the containers; trucks will take the sorted waste to either there appropriate recycling plant or landfills. The landfills will use the waste and turn it into energy.

Image 6,

Image 5,

Image 7, Paper Recycling Plant Plastic Recycling Plant Metal Recycling plant/ Aluminum Recycling plant

28 002763-025 van Engelshoven For this system to work the Chinese people need to be educated in recycling and the importance of the preservation of the environment. The government can give small amounts of money for materials that are recycled. With this an extra motive will be made for the Chinese people to start recycling. This process will eventually turn into cycles. The first cycle is at home when people have to keep sorting the wastes and bringing it the waste disposal site. This process should keep happening and then the waste is brought to the recycling plant or landfill which is also repeated and with this repetition the environment will be preserved because the landfills will not be over capacitated. The over capacity will be dealt with as well with the waste-to-energy facilities because they will burn up most of the garbage. This is not exactly recycling but is the reuse of waste. Though it takes more garbage to make the same amount of energy that is produced with coal, this will reduce the amount of coal that needs to be mined. Resulting in the protection of the environment since fewer mines are needed to extract the coal. Depending on the size of the city, the disposal sites will be located a certain distance from each other. For all the cities the disposable sites should be located within 10km from each other but no closer than 5km. This makes the furthest distance to one of the disposable recycling site about 5km. This is a good distance and will help encourage people to recycle their waste because the distances are not immense. Also jobs could be created with this because if the government sponsors recycled material and for every 1kg of paper that is brought people earn .1rmb, for every 1kg of metal that is brought for recycling .1rmb and the same for plastics it will give people an incentive to recycle while creating jobs.

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The main goal of this investigation is to find a way to effectively recycle materials so that the landfills in china do not go over there capacity. Though this is an end-of-pipe solution it could be part of making sure China has sustainable development. The importance of this investigation shows that there is a major environmental problem in China, with China having the worlds largest population out of any country they have immense influence on the protection of the environment. By showing the environmental issue China presents and finding a solution by educating and defining a process for recycling China can take a step forward to sustainable development. The data that was collected was a small sample there is high data reliability because of ICT to aid in literature search, which backed up the collected data. This data helped develop the process because it shows which recycling facilities are more important; also it shows how much waste cannot be recycled. With the data reliability being high the developed recycling system that was created can be adopted into the Chinese way of life. The developed end product can be altered to fit different cultures needs and waste products. The process does not cover every material that could be recycled; this is due to the fact of limited time and resources. The major wastes for china were however touched upon making the system feasible. To improve the system more materials and specifications would need to be added but with this basic concept. It could be considered an appropriate system since it can be adapted to whatever country or culture it needs to fit, it also educates the people about the affects pollution

30 002763-025 van Engelshoven has on the environment and the importance of preserving it. Also developing a way the trash is transported would make the system more efficient and eco-friendly.

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Works Cited

"Average domestic garbage per capita reached 400kg in 2008." China Trade in Service. Beijing E-Business Hi-tech Technology Co., Ltd. Web. 27 Sept. 2009. < -10/73896.shtml>.

BBC News. "China's waste breakthrough." BBC News. BBC MMX, 18 Mar. 2003. Web. 3 Dec. 2009.

< ce/nature/2860461.stm>.

Dorion, Christiane. Earth's Garbage Crisis (What If We Do Nothing?). Chicago: World Almanac Library, 2007. Print.

McElwee, Charlie. "Recycling in China." China Environmental Law. 14 Aug. 2009. Web. 23 Sept. 2009. <>.

Ru, Wang. "The burning issue." China Daily 28 July 2009: 7-7. China Daily. China Daily Information Co, 28 July 2009. Web. 23 Sept. 2009.

32 002763-025 van Engelshoven "The burn factor - Waste to Energy." BusinessForum China. Imprint. Web. 27 Sept. 2009. <>.