Each morning Tian Wengui emerges from the home he makes under a bridge here, two large sacks slung over his shoulder. Through the day, and well into the night, he scours garbage cans for soda bottles, soy sauce containers and cooking oil jugs. Selling the refuse to one of Beijing’s ubiquitous recycling depots, Mr. Tian can earn $3 on a good day.
But good days are getting harder to come by.
Since Mr. Tian migrated from Sichuan province, the multibillion-dollar recycling industry has gone into a nosedive because of the global economic crisis and a concomitant fall in commodity prices. Bottles now sell for half of what they did in the summer.
“Even trash has become worthless,” Mr. Tian said recently as he made his way to a collection center, his sacks nearly bursting.
For more on recycling, see this video from China’s Green Beat: