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English>>China Business

Answering the E-Waste Question

(Beijing Review)

08:58, September 03, 2012

Workers dismantle discarded electronic devices in a plant at Guiyu Town, south China's Guangdong Province (Beijing Review/Liang Xu)

Riding flatbed tricycles and ramshackle minivans, Zhang Feiyu, a Beijing resident, scours the streets of the Chinese capital in search of an array of valuable metals used in electronic appliances. Zhang, 32, and his band of treasure hunters root through garbage day and night to take collections of their ultimate prize: used and dilapidated electronic products, known as e-waste.

From computers and mobile phones to television sets, refrigerators and washing machines, used electronic goods have allowed Zhang and similar back-alley entrepreneurs to tap the burgeoning, yet mostly unknown, business of e-waste disposal.

After collection, Zhang and his fellow workers dismantle the discarded electronics, dissecting circuit boards to harvest bits of gold, silver and copper.

"We can usually extract 1 gram of gold, 10 grams of silver and maybe 50 grams of copper from 10 computer circuits," said Zhang, who has been in the e-waste disposal business for the past eight years.


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