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Electronic waste recycling can be lucrative

TO boost the recycling of electronic wastes, Shanghai Second Polytechnic University established a research center yesterday to develop technologies and polices to make e-waste recycling a lucrative industry.

China has entered a peak period for replacement of personal electronic products, such as television, mobile phones and computers. Each year more than 15 million household appliances and tens of millions of used phones are dumped in China. By 2020, the volume of trashed electronic products will reach 137 million a year, according to Shanghai Evening Post.

"E-waste is a double-edged sword. It contains both precious metals and harmful pollutants," said Wang Jingwei, head of the new research center. "We want to create a recycling chain to control and utilize electronic waste to the benefits of both economy and environment."

Experts said electronic waste is a new type of resources because it contains precious metals. One ton of motherboards can yield 300 to 400 grams of gold. Steel recycled from waste appliances can save 90 percent of material cost and cut 80 percent of emissions.

But many recyclers in China are unlicensed and are using improper methods that cause pollutions. Wang said discarded computers contain mercury, arsenic and chromium. These substances, if buried or burned, can pollute the soil, underground water, and the air.

As the world's second-largest electronic waste producer, China must establish a scientific recycling system and use high technology to turn e-waste into resources, said experts, noting that the United States, Japan and many European countries have made laws to regulate the e-waste recycling industry and define the responsibility of electronic goods manufacturers, dealers and buyers.

Wang said China currently has 105 qualified e-waste recyclers and the number is expected to reach 400 in 2015, capable of recycling 5 million tons of electronic wastes a year. The government should regulate and subsidize the sector, he said.


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