SZOIL founder David Li calls this the expression of “China as a service.” Instead of having to learn to build electric scooters, Joyor, Grin, Bird, and Lime can focus on the work that requires local knowledge, like distribution and getting permits from city governments.
In recent years, however, policymakers and experts have started thinking about how to increase recycling rates by combining the urban sanitation and recycling systems. Typically, these proposals suggest sanitation departments take over recycling programs. Few have any interest in incorporating the existing informal recycling system. This is a mistake. Over the past few decades, the informal system has become both highly specialized and efficient. We should not ignore it — or the people who’ve developed it.
The co-op proved a turning point in solving these problems, many of my interview subjects told me. In addition to the creation of a high value-added greenhouse industry, the co-op has helped villagers who’ve left the village in search of work in the city, as well as those too old to farm to contract out their land use rights to those willing and able to farm it.
The West was sure the Chinese approach would not work. It just had to wait. It’s still waiting.