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
NameGuiyu National Circular Economy Industrial Park, Guangdong, China
SiteGuiyu 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 CommoditiesE-waste
Recycled Metals
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsIn 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.

As of Dec. 1, 2015, by order of regional authorities, all work on e-scrap was to be moved and confined to a large 1.5 billion yuan ($233 million) industrial park, Guiyu Circular Economy Industrial Park, BAN states in a news release. Furthermore, all e-scrap coming into the industrial park must arrive at one central receiving location where it is now screened to disallow foreign e-scrap. While China has long had a national e-scrap import ban, it was never adequately enforced in Guiyu. [5]

The Guiyu National Circular Economy Industrial Park is designed to force the informal e-waste recycling workshops to make the move and merge into 29 big recycling operation. This park processed 150,000 tonnes of e-waste in 2017 and 180,000 tones in the first eight months of 2018.
Project Area (in hectares)333333
Level of Investment (in USD)233,000,000
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population150,000
Start Date01/12/2015
Company Names or State EnterprisesRenewable 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 actorsThe Chaoyang district government; The Shantou city government
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersBAN, Basel Action Network.

Society of Canton Nature Conservation.
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LATENT (no visible organising at the moment)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingIndustrial workers
Informal workers
International ejos
Wastepickers, recyclers
Forms of MobilizationDevelopment 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
OtherHeavy metals
Socio-economic 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
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCorruption
Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Technical solutions to improve resource supply/quality/distribution
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.Some academics and stakeholders have raised concerns about the sustainability of the industrial park.
Sources and Materials


[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.
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[3] Tang, Y. (2016). Pollution: centralized pilot for e-waste processing. Nature, 538(7623), 41.
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[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.
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Reuters. China trash town's cleanup bolstered by import ban
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Basel Action Network
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South China Morning Post. China’s most notorious e-waste dumping ground now cleaner but poorer
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In Guiyu, the e-waste nightmare is far from over
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[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.
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Other Documents

The workshop in the industrial park The workshop is too small to enable the worker dismantle the e-waste indoor.
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The trading centre of the industrial park All the e-waste is centralised in the trading centre before trading. The trading center is piped with the left-behind e-waste
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Meta Information
ContributorYuktung Chow, Tel Aviv University, [email protected]
Last update08/09/2018