China has cleaned up what was once the world’s biggest hub for recycling electronics. But as the country bans trash imports, it may be driving some recyclers out of business.
For a long time, Guiyu in China was considered the world’s biggest electronic trash dumping ground. Countless small businesses there dismantled old electronics to get to the precious metals and other materials they contained, leaving a trail of environmental destruction and health problems in their wake. China’s government has cracked down on this practice and has forced businesses to move into an industrial park with water and air filters. The city has become much cleaner as a result. But now that China has banned imports of electronic and other trash, some businesses are struggling to survive.