Aug 232017

A Tsunami Hits the Recycling World, and We’ll All Feel it Soon

 August 22nd, 2017

David Baggs David Baggs

Whether you felt it or not, the earth shaking actions that unfolded recently will ultimately have an impact on every one of us.

Late last month, China notified the World Trade Organization that by the end of 2017 it will ban imports of 24 types of rubbish as part of a campaign against "foreign garbage" and environmental pollution.

Anyone who cares for the planet or is a ratepayer or who relies on kerbside recycling or a reliable supply of commonly recycled plastics for manufacturing will likely sooner or later be affected by the additional costs and environmental burdens that this recent decision by China will create in the short to medium term while the developed world waste processing and manufacturing industries change gears and re-establishes recyclate reprocessing for use in their products. The decision creates massive  policy and physical challenges for all levels of government and industry.

The official announcement to the WTO foreshadowed that China will forbid the import of four classes and 24 kinds of solid wastes, including plastics waste from living sources, vanadium slag, unsorted waste paper and waste textile materials.

The major China HS categories being banned include the following types of materials:

  1. Scrap or waste plastic
  2. Waste of wool or of fine or coarse animal hair, including yarn waste but excluding garnetted stock (garnetted textiles are typically waste materials that have been reduces to a fibrous state for reuse in textile manufacturing)
  3. Garnetted stock of wool or of fine or coarse animal hair
  4. Cotton waste (including yarn waste and garnetted stock)
  5. Waste (including noils (short fibres), yarn waste and garnetted stock) of man-made fibres
  6. Used or new rags, scrap twine, cordage, rope and cables and worn out articles of twine, cordage, rope or cables, of textile materials
  7. Slag, dross (other than granulated slag), scalings and other waste from the manufacture of iron or steel
  8. Ash and residues (other than from the manufacture of iron or steel), containing arsenic, metals or their compounds
  9. ‘Other’, including unsorted waste and scrap.

The five types of waste plastics that China is banning have China HS individual codes as shown as below:

  1. 3915100000 – Ethylene polymer scrap and waste
  2. 3915200000 – Styrene polymer scrap and waste
  3. 3915300000 – Vinyl chloride polymer scrap and waste
  4. 3915901000 – Polyethylene terephthalate
  5. 3915909000 – Other related waste plastics.

While it seems the move has not drawn any public comment from Australian trade groups, it has drawn quick criticism from a major US recycling industry trade group, the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), which said it would be “devastating” to the global recycling industry and cost thousands of US jobs.

The Washington-based group said the move could cause severe economic harm in the United States, given that one-third of the scrap recycled in the United States is exported, with China being the largest market. That includes 1.42 million tons (3.1 billion pounds) of scrap plastics, worth an estimated $495 million, out of $5.6 billion in scrap commodities exported from the United States to China last year.

Puzzlingly, this move must also have a major impact on Chinese manufacturers and their local and international supply chains, but for previously waste exporting countries, it likely comes both with major challenges and with the proverbial silver lining opportunity.

The Chinese government cites toxicity and environmental pollution as the major reasons for the ban; it no longer wants China to the ‘garbage bin of the world.’ Government and industry in developed nations like Australia now have the major challenges of dealing with the retention of this waste, and the probably once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to use this as the incentive to facilitate a massive expansion of circular economy awareness and application. We need to see incentives to fast-track the establishment of on-shore waste-reprocessing and re-use industrial ecosystems and facilities.

The big questions this raises are ‘what impact will this have on prices?’ and ‘do we have governments and industry with big enough imaginations to move this into the circular economy space in the short time frame that will be needed?’

To the former question, I suspect the answer will be time dependent. In the short term, I imagine an increase in the price of recycled plastic in China from domestic sources, and in the developed world likewise, alongside a glut of unrecycled plastic heading to landfill.

There is now an even more urgent need to eliminate or at the very least dramatically reduce our reliance on single use packaging, and containers and develop new models for product and beverage delivery that focus on re-useable and circular economy solutions. Given this issue hasn’t really hit the mainstream media in Australia, how are we even going to engage the public to commence the behavioural change and expectation management that is going to be necessary for this change to happen?

It is going to be a major challenge for us all.

Mike Prettyman Chief Information Officer, Green Fire Engineered Reclamation, Member GreenFire DAO Whatsapp only Phone: 1-602-315-1571 Skype: mike.prettyman Website: email:

Apr 252017

Greenfire brings ways to clean the pullotants out of these landfills for the benefit of these acavengers. Thier nomadic lives have found a continuation of the poor lifestyle. Greenfire can turn the poverty into prosparity. 

Sanitation workers and scavengers pick their way through the refuse of the landfill in the Payatas district of Quezon City, Metro Manila. (Photo by Akira Kodaka)

MANILA — What is it like living at the foot of a mountain of garbage?

The Payatas district in Quezon City, Metro Manila, has been called the city's "second Smokey Mountain" — a huge mound of refuse from which many scavengers scrape out a meager income.

Payatas is about a 40-minute drive from central Manila. There, on a spring day, a long column of garbage-laden trucks heads for the dump, billowing up dust. A foul smell is on the breeze.

A nearby hill gives a bird's-eye view of the dump. With a long camera lens one can get a clear look at the top of the massive garbage heap. As the trucks unload, sanitation workers and scavengers scramble.

The scavengers eke out a living collecting and selling metal and plastic scrap to dealers. In the Payatas district, they earn between 100 pesos and 300 pesos ($2 to $6) a day. It is less than the minimum wage, but better than nothing.

Smokey Mountain was the nickname of a large, smoldering landfill located in Manila's Tondo district. After it was shut down in 1995, many of the scavengers who lived there moved to Payatas. The community that arose became known as the second Smokey Mountain, though on this day there was no smoke visible.

Order amid chaos

The Quezon municipal government manages the Payatas landfill. There is a checkpoint at the entrance, through which only registered waste disposal workers and scavengers are allowed to enter.

The scavengers are divided into two groups of 400-500 people each, with the first group allowed to enter in the morning and the second in the afternoon. The dump is supposed to be off limits to children 15 years old or younger.

The entry restrictions were introduced in response to a landslide at the dump in 2000 that left about 300 people dead or missing.



But the landfill is expected to reach its capacity in a year or two. It is anyone's guess what will become of the community then.

These days, recycling garbage is not the only business in the area. Some people are making handicrafts such as stuffed animals with the help of a nonprofit organization, for example.

The Philippine economy continues to grow, but it will take time for the fruits of development to spread to impoverished areas like Payatas. People living at the foot of the garbage mountain will no doubt keep getting by as best they can, hoping for something better.

Source: Payatas scavengers living on Manila’s waste

Apr 212017

Greenfire would like to share this tale about Small Steps Project. The life of Children of the Landfill is unimmagiably hard. It is good to see that the awareness of this harsh reality is expanding. 


By Amy Hanson from Small Steps Project

Last week a devastating landslide of rubbish on Koshe landfill site in Addis Ababa killed over 100 people. Unfortunately this is not the first and nor will it be the last. Thousands of children currently live on landfill sites and rubbish dumps, surviving from scavenging all over the world. This problem, resulting from mass production and consumption, continues to worsen, as the disposal of waste is not properly addressed. UK charity Small Steps Project aim to alleviate some of the humanitarian consequences by distributing emergency aid and providing sustainable solutions to child scavengers, helping them take small steps into a more healthy, dignified and productive life.

We assumed that this was usually a problem found in developing countries without the funds or skills to provide adequate solutions. That was until we started working within the EU, in Romania, which lacks neither of these, but where children still live and work on dumps.

Over the last four years, since we were called in by the UNDP to support the 0-7 year olds living in squalid conditions, on Pata Rat dump in Cluj, Romania, we have seen millions of euros pumped into the problem, but very little finds it’s way to the solution.

Waste management in Romania is in crisis, it is currently rated the worst for recycling in the EU. They have tried, to solve their waste problem through recycling centres, with EU funds, but despite the enormous amount of money spent, they have so far failed to create effective recycling centres, or employment for the parents or services for the children – including access to water, hygiene, nutrition and education.

The recycling centres have been built, but some stand empty and dysfunctional, as huge mountains of rubbish are dumped illegally, not in designated landfill sites.

The problem with the waste in Romania is not just that they can’t deal with processing it, but they neither can they deal with the people who live on it.

The irony is that the municipality who are given the funds with which to create solutions are the very people who created the problems- they are responsible for outsourcing to companies who spent millions on building facilities which were ineffective, and also for the forced evictions of many of the Roma community which lives on the dump site, and indeed placing them there.

In all the nine years that we have worked on dumpsites across the world, we have never seen so much plastic waste in an EU country as we see in Romania. They are so far behind in terms of waste education that no amount of money seems to help them.

We work in partnership with the local government municipality, which means that we have to collaborate with the people who caused the problems for the people we are trying to help.

We have found it difficult to tell whether the Romanian government wants to find solutions to these problems or whether they simply want to receive the funds for these problems.

When we first arrived on the dump, the municipality had provided a mobile unit, a safe place for the children of the dump to clean, eat, play and learn. However the shiny white warm space remained empty as the children, covered in mud played outside. The municipality had made a token gesture towards a solution, but with no one to run the centre it remained unused.

We stepped in to provide human resources and materials to make the unit functional for the children. Against all the odds, and with the water being regularly cut off, over the last 3 years we have managed to support over 100 beneficiaries, including not just the children but also mothers and babies. We have integrated all the 3-7 year olds into nursery off the dumpsite. And in the mobile unit we provide medical care, a mother& baby group, a toddler program and support for the 7+-year-old children.

But sadly, the situation has recently deteriorated, because the children have now had no water for over 6 months. In the EU with millions of euros of funding going to the government. It is pretty shocking that we encounter the same problems that face us in Asia.

We hope that having lent our expertise to Romania, and integrated the children into the school system, they will continue to support them and take responsibility for their futures. Spending funds on solutions rather than identifying obvious problems: the children require education, nutrition and hygiene. Similarly maybe a country with a proven track record of successful recycling, such as Sweden, might be able to lend their expertise to the Romanian waste crisis.

As it stands, to reach the EU target of 65% recycling by 2030 is looking very unlikely, despite EU financial support still flooding in, in what currently looks like a futile attempt to get Romania inline with the rest of Europe.

Small Steps Project also runs projects for child scavengers in Cambodia and Laos.

For more information on their current work see this 1 min short  and or visit website click here


Source: The children surviving by scavenging on rubbish tips…in Europe – The London Economic

Apr 032017

INDONESIA: The Methane Gas Canteen is an eatery like no other – it’s situated right in the middle of the Jatibarang Landfill in Semarang, Central Java, surrounded by mounds of putrefying waste, household rubbish, broken glass and plastic.

Every day, while men, women and children dig through mountains of trash collecting plastic and glass bottles to sell, husband and wife team Sarimin and Suyatmi are busy cooking.

Their customers? Cash-strapped scavengers who have the option to pay for their meals with plastic waste instead of money – part of the community’s novel solution to recycle the non-degradable plastic and reduce waste in the landfill.

Mr Sarimin, 56, weighs the amount of plastic each customer brings to the diner and calculates how much it is worth. This value is then deducted from the cost of the meal, or any surplus value refunded to the customer.

“I think we recycle 1 tonne of plastic waste a day, which is a lot. This way, the plastic waste doesn’t pile up, drift down the river and cause flooding.

“This doesn’t only benefit the scavengers, it benefits everyone,” said Mr Sarimin.

WATCH: How this works (2:08)





Source: Diner in the landfill lets patrons pay for lunch with plastic waste – Channel NewsAsia

Apr 212016

Street kids struggle for survival in Kenya


There is no official figure on the number of homeless children in Kenya, a sign of the lack of interest by Kenyan authorities of the problem.

Kenyastreetchildren 350x210

Ragged, hungry and rejected by society, thousands of street children abandoned by nearly all live in the Kenyan capital Nairobi.

There is no official figure on the number of homeless children in Kenya, a sign of the lack of interest by Kenyan authorities of the problem.

One estimate, by the Consortium of Street Children (CSC), an international charity, suggests the number of street children could be as high as between 250,000 and 300,000 throughout Kenya, including 60,000 in Nairobi alone.

In the district of Mlango Kubwa in central Nairobi, a former landfill is a refuge for street children, who call it “the base”.

Here they sleep on the hard floor, close to the rubbish dumps where they scavenge for scraps to make some profit, but at least the place is safe from outside eyes.

A few hours after dawn, some children are still lying on the ground, the plastic bottles from which they sniff glue beside them. Other spaces are empty, with those youngsters having headed off to work, begging on the streets.

“When people see some of these kids, they do not take them as human beings,” said Moha, himself a former street child, who escaped the tough life, and ekes out a living now dancing alongside bands. “When people see them sniffing glue and dirty, they beat them or insult them.”

Some children are pushed onto the street following the death of parents — sometimes due to HIV/AIDS — or after running away from violence at home. Others live on the street simply because their families are too poor to look after them.

– ‘Act of despair’ -“It is quite difficult to describe the situation… you find if they sleep outside someone’s shop, in the morning, instead of the owner waking them up gently, they kick them or even pour water on them,” Moha said.

Many leave their rural areas – where traditional community ties have loosened – for cities, where they have more chance of surviving by begging, finding odd jobs, scavenging rubbish sites, or prostitution.

Abandoned by the state, several charities offer help. Alfajiri is one of them, a project set up by Australian artist Lenore Boyd, who offers drawing lessons.

“It’s just to invite the kids, to get them to create. It’s not to teach them, it’s not to impose anything on them,” Boyd said. “It’s to say: ‘Tell your story’. They’re very focused and they do lovely work… they tell the stories in their heart and they just enjoy themselves.”

When Boyd walks the streets of the slum, children throw themselves at her, finding friendship and love they otherwise lack.

“Everybody needs to think about the way they’ve been treated, and why they’re living on the streets, and suffering on the streets,” Boyd said. “These kids are traumatised, they are kids who had huge suffering, they’re abandoned… going to the streets is an act of despair.”

– ‘Selling their bodies’ -Girls face an especially tough time.

The Rescue Dada Centre — ‘Girl Rescue’ Centre in Swahili – has been supporting the rehabilitation of street girls in Nairobi for over two decades.

Composed of a dormitory and classrooms, the centre is home to 70 girls. It offers psychological support as well as education, and leads efforts to reunite them with their families.

“The life in town is very difficult, one sleeps out in the cold where you are rained on, sometimes you find that you wake up and find that one of your colleagues has died,” said Janet, 16, who just recently joined the centre. “Others even end up selling their bodies in order to get money to buy food.”

Of the girls admitted in 2014, almost a third were victims of sexual abuse or sexual exploitation, some the victims of gang rape. Many are forced to become prostitutes, with a high risk of contracting AIDS.

“Rehabilitation can take a lot of time,” said the centre’s director Mary Njeri Gatitu. But she struggles on, providing what help she can.

“It is a drop of water in an ocean, because the issue of poverty in Kenya is not being addressed by the government,” she added.

Mar 012016

I am not an employee and I can't be.

Entrepreneurism is a state of mind, a way of looking out at the world and constantly watching for opportunities. You attune your mind so you look at every situation and evaluate for its business potential. It is not something you do for eight hours a day but all the time you are awake.

In the real world of work, purpose finding is what leaders do.”

Robert E. Quinn

While waiting for my purpose to come into focus, there were many experiences of success and failure, I was lost in the forest with no tree in sight.

Then came that “ah ha” moment. I was working with an independent stock broker and market maker, an absolutely ruthless man. He was truly remarkable, he was the one that was busted for a multi-billion dollar scam in the Hong Kong banks in the early 90's.

Anyway, one day we got into a heated discussion about business, he got pissed and threw a one liner at me that I have never forgotten, “Are you an employee or are you an entrepreneur?”

I am an Entrepreneur.

I am a person who organizes and manages an enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk.

If it was easy, everyone would do it.”

Working toward being a successful entrepreneur is a drag; you get a good idea but nobody likes it. Then you have a good idea, start the business and it fails. Now repeat after me. “Good Idea, failed.”

That changed Jan 15, 2015, when Tom had the first public meeting of Markethive. On Jan 18th I published my first article on Markethive.

Beginning to understand, I again searched for an entrepreneurial pursuit. “Follow your passion”, “do what you like to do”…

What? … What? What is my passion? Its complicated.

Then there was a sign (you always get one if you listen). I read an article about Zhang Yin.

Zhang Yin, the low-profile mother of two, went from humble beginnings in China to a top ranking position on the list of the world's richest people. In fact, Forbes ranked the owner and founder of Nine Dragons Paper as the wealthiest self-made woman in the world.

She did it with waste, our waste.

In 1985, Zhang moved to Hong Kong and started her first waste paper trading company with just a few thousand dollars. Despite financial difficulties and unscrupulous business partners, Zhang managed to build her wealth. Five years later, she and her husband left for the United States.

In America, the enterprise that would become Nine Dragons was born. Because there was a shortage of paper materials in China and her paper trading business was not doing as well as Zhang would have liked, she left for America. In the U.S., however, she had no such problem. There was plenty of waste paper everywhere she and her husband looked.

Zhang set up a system to collect and bundle the paper in America, then send it to China to be processed into usable paper products. American raw “waste” materials were shipped across the Pacific for processing. Our paper waste was converted into boxes, cardboard, and other paper products, then sold to Chinese manufacturers as packaging and containers and then sold back to us full of Chinese products.

With an estimated net worth of more than $3.4 billion, Zhang Yin has more money than both Oprah Winfrey and "Harry Potter" creator J.K. Rowling. In schools, Zhang is lauded as an example to young Chinese girls of their unlimited potential and ability.

She did it with waste.

Waste has value.

From a certain point of view, it is the very bottom of the material wealth of society. What society wastes and considers unusable and worthless.

Well its not worthless and I claim it!

Here is the deal,we have 7 billion people in the world and each of them wastes an average of 100 tons in a lifetime. 40% of all waste goes into open landfills. These landfills directly affect half of the world's population.

Is there an opportunity here?

Green Fire is the only company in the world that can do what is needed for this situation.

We have a simple model, we call it the Triangle of Waste; raw materials into commodities, commodities into Waste, Waste into raw materials. Green Fire turns waste into raw reusable materials.

I found an entrepreneurial opportunity in waste and a purpose that inspired the business of landfill mining and what we are able to give back to society in the process.

There are several global organizations that focus on this opportunity. Let me introduce you.

Wiego – Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing

WIEGO is a global network focused on securing livelihoods for the working poor, especially women, in the informal economy.

Informal workers need voice, visibility and validity. WIEGO creates change by building capacity among informal worker organizations, expanding the knowledge base, and influencing local, national and international policies.

Today WIEGO is a thriving network of 176 Individual and Institutional Members in 40 countries who share this concern.

The Global Alliance of Waste Pickers

The Global Alliance of Waste Pickers is a networking process supported by WIEGO, among thousands of waste picker organizations with groups in more than 28 countries covering mainly Latin America, Asia and Africa.

Waste pickers are workers in the informal economy who represent, according to several institutions (ILO, World Bank, and others), 1% of the urban population. They total approximately 15 million landfill pickers in 96 regional organizations.

ISWA – The International Solid Wast Association

The National Members are non-profit, waste management associations representing the waste management industry in a particular country. Generally, these associations have memberships from both the private and public sector. Based on ISWA regulations, the National Members are the only memberships allowed to vote at the General Assembly and thus, they constitute the governing body of ISWA. ISWA's global waste management network adds up to over 100,000 waste management professionals associated with ISWA National Member organizations alone.

Membership in ISWA is paid, not so in the other two

Inspiration after inspiration.

We are Landfill Miners and more.

GF re-purposes the reclaimed raw materials into usable material then uses that to create small autonomous villages for the workers (Pickers) that live and work on these landfills.

My business is waste and I am a founding member of Green Fire Engineered Reclamation, the only company in the world that can reclaim and reuse 99% of all landfill wastes.

Green Fire Engineered Reclamation is an Engineering company, not environmental, not mining and not geological but a combined association of those professionals with an intent toward landfill mining.

The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.
Steve Jobs

Green Fire is going to change the world.

Note: Just in case you may have missed any of my previous blog posts, here is one of my active projects. It is a new social network for entrepreneurs, completely free, and very unique. It could be a great thing for your business. It is called MarketHive. Just click —-> HERE <—- to find out more.


Feb 262016

Is It Waste Or Is It Waste?

Waste, Just look at it. It's the stuff we put in the little plastic bag lining the kitchen “garbage can”, then take to the big black garbage can container out at the curb. Listen, subconsciously for the sound of the garbage truck then again subconsciously sigh when we hear the dumping and the truck driving to the next garbage container.
Most of the people fail to see it at all – the eye tends to subtract it – but those who do notice usually don't pay any attention. It's “Out sight out of mind.”

A sea of cell phones

According to the United Nation. 'Wastes' are substance or objects, which are disposed of or are intended to be disposed of or are required to be disposed of by the provisions of national law.

In the modern language of garbage “Waste”, has become synonymous with “Trash” – that is, waste has come to mean the perceived dirty, icky, unhelpful, useless, valueless material that's left over when we're done with something. By this definition, waste is the foul stuff we wish would just disappear.

“Out of Sight, Out of Mind”

Our entire elaborate waste collection, transportation and disposal system has for a century been built around this “just make it go away” concept, An illusion for which Americans happily (or at least regularly) pay either through taxes or monthly bills. Waste in this sort of discussion is always to be defined as a cost, a negative and a burden – an inevitable, unpleasant fact of life, for which the only remedy is removal.

I apply a different definition to the word “Waste”, the one we at Green Fire emphasize – the original verb form of the word as in 'to waste” something. By this definition the nature of the discussion changes, because “to waste” implies the object being wasted has value, be it time, resources or manpower. After all, you can't “Waste” something that has no value.

If trash is defined not as waste but as the physical manifestation of wastefulness, the discussion stops being about disposing of the dirty or useless, and starts being about asking why we are throwing away so much hard earned money. Why are we wasting stuff that we pay for as product or packaging, then pay for again as trash to be hauled away to be recycled, then sold back to us again as product or packaging?

Now it is no longer the waste itself that's negative but the lack of awareness of this “value” that's at issue. Looking at it from this point of view, the convenience of burying these discounted items in landfills forever, or shipping them off to China to be recycled for pennies on the dollar and sold back to us, stops seeming so normal or sensible.

Green Fire defines Waste in this discussion as a “value”, a positive and an advantage – an undeniable, pleasant fact of life, for which the only approach is resource recovery, reclaim the value.

Resource recovery is the retrieval of waste material, which was intended for disposal, for specific local uses. Green Fire processes waste material to extract or recover raw materials and resources, or convert to energy. This process is carried out at a Green Fire on-site resource recovery facility.

Resource recovery is not only important to the environment, but it can be cost effective by decreasing the amount of waste sent to the disposal stream, convert the amount of space needed for landfills to restored farm land, and recover limited natural resources.

Let me introduce you to Landfill mining and reclamation (LFMR), a process whereby solid wastes which have previously been landfilled are excavated and processed.

The function of landfill mining is to reduce the amount of landfill mass encapsulated within the closed landfill and/or temporarily remove hazardous material to allow protective measures to be taken before the landfill mass is replaced.

In the process, mining recovers valuable reusable raw materials, fuels and gases, construction material, soil, and landfill space.

The aeration of the landfill soil is a secondary benefit regarding the landfills future use. The fuels and gases are used for the generation of power.

The overall appearance of the landfill mining procedure is a sequence of processing machines laid out in a functional conveyor system. The operating principle is to excavate, sort, crush and feed prepared the landfill material to the recovery facility.

It is Waste and Waste contains many resources with high value.

Note: Just in case you may have missed any of my previous blog posts, here is one of my active projects.  It is a new social network for entrepreneurs, completely free, and very unique.  It could be a great thing for your business.  It is called MarketHive.  Just click —-> HERE <—- to find out more.