BEIJING: Shanghai's first waste computer recycling center designed to help underprivileged students is meeting competition from private collectors who pay cash for older machines.
Since opening last November, the center at in Xuhui District has received about 10,000 discarded computers, meaning it only gets one in 70.
The biggest problem is that most people prefer to sell their old computers to private collectors for about 50 yuan (US$7.32) to 100 yuan.
"It is just a little money for them but it causes great damage to society and the environment," said Zhang Binfeng, who is in charge of the center, was quoted as saying by Friday's Shanghai Daily.
"Private collectors sell some still-usable computers in second-hand shops," he said. "It is dangerous to use these computers and they may easily break down."
Other non-usable parts of computers are burnt to get the useful metal or buried under the ground.
"This causes pollution to the river and the air," Zhang said.
About 300 recycled computers, with authorized software, have been created by the center in the past 10 months, all of which have been approved as safe and environmentally friendly by authorities.
Most of these computers will be donated to students in poverty-stricken areas in the central and western regions of China. Others will be sold for between 200 yuan and 800 yuan to rural families who cannot afford a new computer, according to Zhang.
"We can produce more if more people know about us," he said. Li Jingyi, a Fudan University student with an old computer, said: "It's good news to me ... 100 yuan won't improve my life but giving the computer to this network can protect the environment and help the poor."
The center, sponsored by the Shanghai Federation of Returned Overseas Chinese, the Shanghai Electronic Waste Recycling Center and the Computer Association, has received help from both government and companies.
Xuhui District has provided free offices and more than 1,200 companies from Caohejing Development Zone in the District have signed contracts to donate discarded computers.