…Here in Mai, a village in Guangdong Province, southern China, a community of recyclers ekes out a living from items considered so worthless in the west that they are given away free and quickly discarded. Carrier bags and bottles are shipped here from London, Rotterdam, Hong Kong and cities within China for chopping, melting and remoulding into pellets. Like many jobs outsourced to China, it’s dirty, smelly, labour-intensive and poorly paid.
There is so much rubbish to be recycled that parts of the village look like a dump. “The river is foul – we can smell it from our classrooms,” says Wang Yanxia, a student at a local middle school. “When it rains, the water floods on to the path and the stench is everywhere.” Villagers may not have heard of Tesco, but the British high street giant has an all too visible presence. One factory has even decorated its front gates with huge plastic banners advertising a Tesco mobile phone offer….[Full Text]