Organised by Dr Junfeng Wang, a visiting researcher from Nankai University, the trip began with the researchers being hosted by CEO Miss Xuan Wang and Dr Feifei Zhang and from Tianjin City Mine Company. City Mine are a forward-thinking technology company committed to brokering the relationship between consumer to business resource management, and the first Chinese company to become the Circular Economy SME finalists of the Circulars 2019 awards. They are a key service provider for households to identify waste for collection and arrange the transportation to the local industrial park for recycling resources. Focusing on eight different material streams – steel, rubber, waste paper, plastics, furniture, e-Waste, textiles and non-ferrous metals, discussions centred around reverse supply chain management solutions, landscape mapping and value chains, the future of work and policy implications. Dr Alison Stowell said “It is fascinating to see and hear the similarities and differences between City Mine’s approach to Urban Mining and that of the UK. We are look forward to developing future research agendas with the Company and Nankai University.”
Whilst on the visit Dr Stowell and Dr Lingxuan Liu were shown the company’s virtual reality training software and navigated their way through an e-Waste recycling plant. Dr Liu described his virtual reality experience “it is excellent, you get to see the recycling plants and learn some of the health and safety protocols before even entering into the plants.”
The researchers were then shown round the e-Waste recycling facilities, the GEM Urban Mining Museum at Ziya’s Headquarters where they talked of the challenges of creating a true Circular Economy, and in particular plastics, and the difficulties involved with identifying the various types and quality standards. Dr Guilan Tang, Director of the Industrial Park spent time with the group sharing insights into the Park’s development and their plans for expansion. Dr Tang said she looked forward to showing the Researchers how quickly the Park is evolving when they return. She also said "It is fascinating to see and hear the similarities and differences between City Mine’s approach to Urban Mining and that of the UK. We are look forward to developing future research agendas with the Company and Nankai University.”
The visit concluded with a China UK Seminar on Green Supply Chain and e-Waste Management at Nankai University. The conference included further insights from City Mine, Ziya and academics from Nankai and UK. Dr Junfeng Wang described the knowledge exchange as a success: “There are many lessons that we can learn from each other, and develop together, regarding reverse supply chain logistics, policy and role of technology. We are looking forward to the next workshop where we can exchange further knowledge on the topic”.
Discussions are now underway to see if a Memorandum of Understanding can be developed between City Mine and the Pentland Centre for Sustainability in Business.