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Business / Green China

Small gadgets cause recycling headache for China

(Xinhua) Updated: 2014-03-19 16:48

JINAN - Li Huizi, a hardcore gadget lover, has tried to restrain her desire for the latest cell phone after finding a mountain of old models forgotten in a corner of her home.

The 28-year-old resident of Jinan, capital of East China's Shandong province, boasts an impressive collection of unused gadgets, including cell phones, tablet computers, digital cameras, memory sticks, MP3 and MP4 players, as well as their chargers and batteries.

"I didn't want to sell them too cheaply to peddlers who collect the waste, but they were not presentable gifts either. So I just ignored them," said Li, who works for a large state-owned company.

Small gadgets cause recycling headache for China

Small gadgets cause recycling headache for China
Li represents China's increasingly affluent middle-class consumers, who are keen to upgrade their electronics but lack knowledge of how to properly handle old products that contain potentially dangerous metals.

The end-of-life goods often escape safe handling as their owners let them collect dust at home, sell them to unlicensed collectors or simply discard inexpensive accessories such as batteries.

Recycling and disposal of small electronic goods have become a growing malady for the world's second-largest economy. Experts and business owners say the problem is in part due to the absence of government support, though subsidy programs are in place for the recycling of bigger electronic items, such as TVs and refrigerators.

Hazards & value

Earlier this month, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang "declared war" on the pollution of water, soil and air in his first government work report at the annual session of the National People's Congress.

While the public applauded the leader's gesture, many have no idea that their cool gadgets can also be polluters.

Lithium batteries for cell phones, laptops and other electronic goods contain heavy metals like cobalt, nickel and copper, which can have negative environmental and health impacts if the e-trash is dumped carelessly, said Xu Chongqing, a researcher with the Energy Institute of the Shandong Academy of Sciences.

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