CNN, in 2013, reported how the United Nations dubbed China as the electronic wastebasket of the world. E-waste were “harvested” in the country’s Guiyu township in Guangdong province. Family workshops in Guiyu have been working with e-waste since technology gave birth of TV sets and air conditioners.
China Daily reported that thousands of people in Guiyu used to harvest metals and minerals from discarded appliances and devices. Guiyu’s e-waste industry used to recover 450,000 tons of copper and about 20 metric tons of gold annually, China Daily reported citing township head Lin Qiurong.
The booming business, however, affected the environment as well as the workers’ health. “Many workshops discharged untreated acid wastewater directly into the rivers,” Guiyu Recycling Economic and Industrial Zone deputy director Zheng Jinxiong said.
Mr. Qiurong said that “via the regulations, we declared war on the dismantling of e-waste, until all the family workshops moved into the industrial zone, and were transformed into environmentally friendly outfits.”
In 2012, Guiyi was home to over 5,000 small workshops. The township is now home to about 1,400 well-trained dismantling facilities that have been consolidated into 29 joint-venture companies.
“Guiyu currently processes around 400,000 tons of discarded e-waste (a year). We have established a system to cover the whole recycling process-from keeping records of all the waste that enters the town, to dismantling and on to the final re-sales,” Mr. Jinxiong explained.