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Guiyu National Circular Economy Industrial Park, Guangdong, China

E-waste formalization in Guiyu: National Circular Economy Industrial Park. Guiyu is a lesson that a 'war on pollution' is best fought through preventing the pollution in the first place.


Guiyu is the most notorious informal e-waste recycling center in the world. It features primitive recycling approaches. Growing with China’s economic and industrial development, the informal sector in Guiyu has become a self-organized secondary materials’ recycling industry and one of the centralized secondary resources center in China [1]. While informal e-waste recycling has made a positive impact on the local economy, e-waste recycling is still the favorable source of income for the local population. However, due to illegal trading, improper recycling methods and metals extraction, waste dismantling can cause harm to human health from the release of hazardous toxins [2]. The Chinese government implemented a series of policies to deal with the e-waste issue in Guiyu [3]. 

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Guiyu National Circular Economy Industrial Park, Guangdong, China
State or province:Guangdong
Location of conflict:Guiyu county, Chaoyang District, Shantou City
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Waste Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:E-waste and other waste import zones
Specific commodities:E-waste
Recycled Metals
Project Details and Actors
Project details

In 2015, Basel Action Network (BAN), the environmental organization that in 2001 reported on the global electronic scrap dumping ground in Guiyu, China, and the Society of Canton Nature Conservation confirmed following a visit in December 2015 that the Chinese government has moved to place strict controls on informal e-scrap recycling operations and also has prohibited the entry of foreign e-waste into the Guiyu area.

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Project area:333333
Level of Investment for the conflictive project233,000,000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:150,000
Start of the conflict:01/12/2015
Company names or state enterprises:Renewable Resources Industrial Co., Ltd., Guiyu Industrial Park, Shantou City from China
Industrial Park Wastewater Treatment Plant Co., Ltd. Guiyu Industrial Park, Shantou City
Deqing Renewable Resources Technology Co., Ltd., Guiyu Industrial Park, Shantou City
Relevant government actors:The Chaoyang district government; The Shantou city government
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:BAN, Basel Action Network.
Society of Canton Nature Conservation.
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLATENT (no visible organising at the moment)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Industrial workers
Informal workers
International ejos
Wastepickers, recyclers
Forms of mobilization:Development of alternative proposals
Relocaton of the recycling workshop
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Other Environmental impacts
Potential: Air pollution, Fires, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsVisible: Accidents, Occupational disease and accidents, Other environmental related diseases, Other Health impacts
Other Health impactsHeavy metals
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..)
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Corruption
Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Technical solutions to improve resource supply/quality/distribution
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:Some academics and stakeholders have raised concerns about the sustainability of the industrial park.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[1] Chow, Y. (2018). Vicissitudes of Guiyu: Emergence, Development and Disintegration of an E-waste Recycling Hub. (MA’s Thesis), Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel.

[2] Huo, X., Peng, L., Xu, X., Zheng, L., Qiu, B., Qi, Z., . . . Piao, Z. (2007). Elevated Blood Lead Levels of Children in Guiyu, an Electronic Waste Recycling Town in China. Environmental Health Perspectives, 115(7), 1113-1117.
[click to view]

[3] Tang, Y. (2016). Pollution: centralized pilot for e-waste processing. Nature, 538(7623), 41.
[click to view]

[4] Li, B., Du, H., & Bao, J. (2011, February). Policy on E-Waste in China - Case Study of Guiyu Town, Guangdong Province. In 2011 International Conference on Computer Distributed Control and Intelligent Environmental Monitoring (pp. 2482-2485). IEEE.
[click to view]

Reuters. China trash town's cleanup bolstered by import ban
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Basel Action Network
[click to view]

South China Morning Post. China’s most notorious e-waste dumping ground now cleaner but poorer
[click to view]

In Guiyu, the e-waste nightmare is far from over
[click to view]

[5[ Chinese city moves electronics recycling activities to industrial park. Chinese government places strict controls on electronics recycling operations. December 18, 2015. Recycling Today Staff. Report on field trip by BAN executive director.
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Yuktung Chow, Tel Aviv University, [email protected]
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:3664
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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