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E-waste recycling: 'Go modern'
By Zhan Lisheng (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-04-22 07:47

E-waste recycling: 'Go modern'

A worker sifts through piles of discarded electric appliances looking for metals that can be recycled in Guiyu town, Guangdong province. [File photo]

The south China province of Guangdong must take effective measures to recycle massive amounts of e-waste generated in the region if it is serious about improving the environment, experts said yesterday.

"Even though Guangdong is one of the country's top bases for manufacturing home appliances and information technology (IT) products, it has a negligible number of modern enterprises recycling e-waste," Wang Gang, director of the provincial environmental protection industry association, said.

"The primitive way of treating e-waste, which seems rampant in many Chinese cities, will very likely challenge hopes to protect the environment," he said, adding it was imperative to adopt "more modern and effective measures" to deal with the problem.

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The provincial government should offer financial support, including tax rebates and subsidies, to industries recycling e-waste to help them become more competitive, Wang said. "Guangdong needs to do all it can to help these industries play a far bigger role in environmental protection."

Citing official statistics, Wu Hongjie, a director with the provincial environmental protection bureau, said that the province discards about 12 million home appliances annually, topping any other province, city or region in the country.

"Despite the fact that Guangdong has urged several of its cities, including Huizhou, Dongguan and Meizhou, to set up industrial parks for recycling e-waste, it is a pity that there are very few such bases, and even fewer that are operating well," Wu said.

The State-level recycling base in Qingyuan, he said, salvages just about 40,000 tons of e-waste annually, which is only 20 percent of the total generated in the city. "However, primitive workshops, which thrive on dismantling e-waste, can be found everywhere." Wu said it was a matter of "great urgency" that local governments step up and make good use of their industrial parks for reprocessing, instead of continuing to recycle e-waste using ancient methods, such as burning and melting.

"It is equally important that a scientific system for e-waste reclamation be set up where hazardous materials can be collected and kept under close supervision," he added.

Besides the town of Guiyu in Shantou, Qingyuan city's Shijiao town and Lishui in Foshan situated in the Pearl River Delta region, are also notorious for filling the air with toxic pollutants as a direct result of burning and melting e-waste.


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