Crazy Man, Chinese Pig
Now you see it, now you don't

Rubbish

I guess we're all familiar with the way that newspapers in Europe and North America report the success of China in various sectors.

The Guardian has a very strange story about recycling in China. The headline is "The UK's new rubbish dump: China", which gives you a flavour of the piece.

Commercially, the logic seems hard to fault. Containers full of garments, electronic goods and all manner of Chinese exports arrive in the UK. Rather than being returned empty, they are filled with rubbish for processing and recycling. Chinese companies employ people to sort through the rubbish, and then re-process whatever they can.

As you would expect, there is a certain amount of 'spin' on this story:

Western plastic companies are setting up in China, but some of the poorest people are employed to sort and recycle the plastic. "Plastic is now one of the biggest industries in Guangdong province, but much of the work is being done by migrant labour earning a pittance," said Martin Baker, of Greenpeace China.

"I would say that Britain is dumping its rubbish in the name of recycling. It is not responsible recycling that is being done. It is reprocessing, but the methods being used are still mostly rudimentary. There are some good factories, but on the whole it is small scale, done in backstreets with little environmental standards. People are burning plastic, sorting it by hand, the water gets polluted and it goes back into the rivers," he said.

However, read a bit further and you discover that this trade is having a positive impact:

This insatiable demand for the world's rubbish, he said, has actually boosted the British market for plastic recyclers, raising the price and making it far more worthwhile for councils to collect and not dump it in landfill. Partly because of this, more than half of all British local authorities now offer plastic recycling.

[..]

Andrew Simmons of the Peterborough-based waste charity Recoup buys millions of plastic bottles from UK councils, bales them up, and sells them to a reprocessor who then sells them on to Europe or, increasingly, to China. He rejected claims that Britain was dumping its rubbish on China and said that the environmental cost of sending bottles thousands of miles was negligible compared with making "virgin" plastic bottles from oil.

Indeed. Even if some of the Chinese companies are cutting corners, the story seems to be that more recycling is being done at a lower cost.

Of course, some British companies are losing out as a result. However, this could easily have been written in a positive way rather than the usual stuff about cheap labour, poor environmental standards and general scare-mongering.

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Wayne Jones

Thought that this may be relevant. A cheeky British artist.

Xiamen China: It’s Bold, It’s Brash, It’s Trash

A young British Artist Daniel Groves is turning Rubbish into art.

There is nothing new about trash art. It is something which has been with us for the best part of a century. It burst onto the art scene in the early twentieth century with Dadaism, an anti aesthetic, protest art movement. It was brought to the fore in more recent years by artists such as the K Foundation aka KLF, the Art/Music outfit who shocked the art world by nailing 1 million pounds to a board and calling it art. They later put it up for sale for 500,000 pounds and spectacularly upstaged the Turner Prize that year.

What Daniel Groves is doing, following on from his Dadaist forefathers, is taking a highly politicized, highly ecological issue and using it to good effect.
In recent weeks there has been much publicity about container loads of recyclable refuse being sent, illegally, from Great Britain and Ireland to China where it is disposed of. Dan has put together a collection of conceptual pieces which using rubbish and putting them on the market in his native UK.
Ask as to his rational for doing this Dan coolly replies. “I feel very strongly about this subject and in an age where we are all becoming more and more aware of the damage that we are doing to our planet it is, frankly, shocking to me that governments and organizations are systematically flouting the very rules they put in place with regards to waste disposal.” “It is because of this duplicitous posturing that I wanted to highlight the injustices that are occurring in the best way I could, by creating art out of Chinese rubbish and sending back to Great Britain”
With the help of Art Studios Ocean's Bridge, Dan is achieving his goal. Oceans Bridge have commissioned his works and are busy developing a marketing strategy that will see the pieces go on sale in the UK and see all the proceeds go to environmentalist charities.
Ocean's Bridge is an American based Art Company with offices in Europe, the USA and China. They have received many accolades for their success in bringing genuine hand painted art to more people than ever before, both through their website - the world's largest commercial art gallery - and partnerships with retailers worldwide.

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