The Economics of Sustainability Work in China

Saturday, June 15, 2013 19:04
Posted in category Going to Market, The Big Picture
Comments Off on The Economics of Sustainability Work in China

As I have covered (at length) in previous posts, one of the byproducts of China’s economic model has been that the negative externalities of growth are creating a tangible dialogue about what sustainability means. At the local level, this is important for a host of reasons, but none more important that as the byproduct gains tangibility, so do the solutions.

Going back a couple of years in China’s food safety logs, you will remember a scandal that involved the reselling of used oil into restaurants. It was one of the hotter stories, and was one of those stories that kick started discussions of food safety for all the right reasons. Discussions that at the surface level mainly focused at the morality of the system, and “how could they”, but at its heart was like many of China’s problem… it was an byproduct of a failed process. In this case a process where an economy of reselling was profitable, and improperly restrict.

As with so many similar issues in China, it is only a matter of time before a waste becomes a resource, and in this case it could prove a very valuable one as it aligns with another one of China’s more politically sensitive economies.. energy.

The recent China Daily article provides a nice example of that. Gutter oil to be used as auto fuel

Lou Diming, a professor at Tongji’s School of Automotive Studies who has led the study for the past three years, said after many experiments it is now the right time to turn the application of recycled cooking oil for vehicles into a reality.

His team has experimented with using mixed diesel fuel on more than 300 taxis, buses and lorries.

A regulation regarding the proper disposal of waste oil, including a clarification of the qualifications of oil collectors, came into effect in Shanghai in March.

The municipality leads the country in supervising the collection of waste oil, and at least 90 percent of its oil has been recycled appropriately, according to Yan.


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