For the last few months, Shanghai residents have been sorting their trash, but the question has been – what to do with it? With more than 230 million tons of waste produced every year in China, and most of it ending up as landfill, the question is a serious one. This question is being addressed by research on how to turn household waste and landfill into usable construction materials by Professor Zhao Youcai, of Tongji University, one of the heads of the research team involved in turning trash into usable materials. Prof. Zhou says after the garbage is stabilized, 80% of landfill can be extracted to produce useful materials, for example, they can now convert 10 tons of landfill to produce 3 tons of brick that can then be used to pave 170 square meters of road. He estimates that 20 – 30% of landfill is plastic, 20% is rubber and petroleum products that seldom degrade, and about 10% is construction waste.
His biggest challenge however is to convince developers to buy the green products, who seem reluctant, even though the prices are comparable to conventional materials. “Developers are more concerned with cost than with origin,” he says, so the challenge is to bring the costs of his green products down even further. One solution, according to Stephan Tam, Senior Director of CBRE, is to get the government to subsidize the green materials to bring the prices down to less than market prices, “it’s the only way to develop the business.” The good news is that the government is now helping Prof. Zhao with subsidies on trash digging and sorting to make his projects happen, and in the process, even to turn a little profit as well.
Source: Money Talks, ICS