With a height of two meters and a width of over four meters, a straw-made garbage sorting box caught people's fancy at an expo for comprehensive utilization of straw and livestock and poultry breeding waste.
"Straw is a kind of solid agricultural waste, and now we use it to hold waste, said Zhang Zhongcheng, founder of the Fuyang Hongqiao Straw Technology Co., Ltd. "The garbage sorting box is assembled from straw-made boards and has lower cost and less odor pollution. Equipped with sensors, it will open when people get close to it," Zhang said.
The expo took place Friday and Saturday in Hefei, the capital of east China's Anhui Province, attracting more than 1,000 enterprises to showcase their products and technologies in straw utilization.
Zhang started his research and development on straw utilization eight years ago. "A decade ago, farmers used to burn straw after harvests to clear the field. But I think the straw is valuable. With different techniques, it can replace wood and brick and have added value," said Zhang.
After continuous efforts, he can make one cubic meter of boards with one tonne of straw materials. His company has developed various products, including straw-made garbage sorting boxes and straw-made pet houses used in many cities.
According to Zhang, each straw-made garbage sorting box can be used for three years, but it can be recycled for reproduction, helping reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
As a large agricultural province, Anhui produces around 48 million tonnes of straw annually, and the comprehensive utilization rate of crop straw in the province increased from 83 percent in 2016 to 91 percent in 2021, according to Yang Zengquan, deputy director of the provincial department of agriculture and rural affairs.
The straw-made products have also gained popularity in overseas markets as they are environmentally friendly.
Straw-made products from Guoyang Daoyuan Crafts Co., Ltd., such as flower baskets, fruit plates, and storage baskets, are well received in many countries.
"We design products based on foreign customers' requirements and preferences, such as the straw-made Santa at Christmas and straw-made rabbits and Easter eggs at Easter," said Lu Lei, general manager of the company.
The company's exports hit 63 million yuan (about 9.3 million U.S. dollars) in 2021, and the products sell to many countries, including the United States, Britain, France, and Australia.
Lu's company has provided jobs for about 2,000 women and the elderly as it set up processing sites in 36 villages.
"We offered them free training, and they can earn thousands of yuan a month by making straw-made products," said Lu. "From trash to treasure, the small straw is no longer a burden for Chinese farmers."