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Teenager bags the solution to garbage disposal

China Daily ,July 03, 2020 Adjust font size:

Rather than hanging out with friends, a Shanghai teenager used his spare time to design a plastic bag that enables garbage to be disposed of easily and hygienically.

The creation of middle school student Shi Yuan, 14, the bag has three handles instead of the usual two. Located at the bottom of the bag, the additional handle allows the user to dispose of wet garbage more easily.

"When we place kitchen waste in a bin, we usually hold one handle and the bottom of a bag. The waste spills easily and our hands and clothes can become dirty if we don't hold the bag carefully," Shi said.

"The extra handle allows users to flip the bag to deposit wet garbage."

Shi said he came up with the idea in June last year after dirtying his clothes while clearing away wet garbage.

After telling his family about the concept, his father, Shi Jun, helped him find a factory to produce the bags and also invested 10,000 yuan ($1,416) in producing prototypes.

Shi Yuan also received advice from his friends and teachers during the design process.

"We initially produced 30,000 bags and gave them to neighboring residences for free to help residents sort their waste. However, demand surged as an increasing number of people heard about the invention. This was why we decided to mass produce the bags," the teenager said.

Production began in October, and the bags are sold in Shanghai stores. They come in two sizes. The medium-sized option can hold 10 liters of water and is suitable for a family of three, Shi Yuan said. The larger option can hold up to 20 liters of water.

A pack of 20 medium-sized bags costs 7.20 yuan, while the same quantity of the larger bags costs 8.40 yuan.

In October, Shi Jun set up an online store on the Taobao e-commerce platform and a mini-program on WeChat. He said that since setting up an account on the short-video platform Douyin in March, more than 10,000 orders for the bags have been received every day on average.

The boy's parents said they did not expect his creation to be so successful.

His father, who works in the internet industry and handles sales of the bags, said, "Any profit we make is reinvested in the production process."

Shi Yuan is currently only responsible for designing the bags, as he is busy preparing to take the high school entrance exam, or gaokao, next year.

His invention won first prize at the 35th Shanghai Youth Science and Technology Innovation Competition in April and received a special environmental protection award from the Shanghai Landscaping and City Appearance Administration Bureau in May.

The bag has also been included in the Shanghai municipal government's work plan for this year as a means to facilitate waste sorting.

A total of 237 Chinese cities have begun garbage sorting practices, according to the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development. By the end of this year, laws, regulations and systems for garbage sorting will be introduced in 46 major cities, according to authorities.

This means that the Shi family will have a bigger market to tap.

Shi Jun said: "More orders are from outside Shanghai. Beijing consumers have been snapping up our bags and we also expect more orders to come from Wuhan, Hubei province, where waste sorting rules took effect on Wednesday.

"With orders rising, we also have the responsibility to upgrade or change the material we use, to enable us to be more environmentally friendly."

Shi Yuan said the bags are made from 70 percent polyethylene and 30 percent calcium carbonate. These proportions keep carbon dioxide emissions to a minimum when the bags are incinerated.

"It is six times more expensive to produce biodegradable waste bags compared with ordinary ones. We will share our insight with scientific institutions, companies and universities to explore the use of eco-friendly materials," he added.