Recycling for a Living

You don’t have to go very far outside the cities of China to see the manufacturing that fills the air with smoke and makes the waters run green. However, if you go to the streets of a city like Shanghai, you see something kind of unexpected: recycling. You see recyclable material piled high on to the back of bikes, defying the laws of gravity as they maneuver through traffic. Most of the time you can’t even make it to a trash can with an empty bottle in your hand before someone is looking to take it away. It’s also a common sight to see people digging through garbage looking for cans, bottles, and cardboard. Where this might look like people are fanatically trying to help out their environment, in truth, they are looking for their next meal.

Recycling Collection Center From what I have been able to observe so far, people collect all sorts of scraps ranging from bottles to broken chairs, and then haul them to their local recycling collection centers. These “collection centers” really have no physical structures, but rather are just a meeting point where people know to bring things. One of these happens to be right outside the main gate of my apartment complex. In exchange for a balancing, bike load of cardboard, an attendant will pay the collector a sum of money, which, I am assuming, can’t be all too much. From there, I’m not really sure where the process continues, but I’m guessing that these small collection centers report to larger ones at a more district level within the city. I plan on looking more into this to find out the specifics, though I think I will run into a slight language barrier.

Published as part of the Blog Action Day

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