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周末双语ZT:废品回收业艰难度日

(2008-12-13 07:22:10)
标签:

金融危机

废物回收

财经

分类: 奇文共赏

《时代》周刊11月20日发表Austin Ramzy一篇题为“在中国,废品回收业艰难度日”(In China, Hard Times at the Scrap Heap)的报导,摘要如下(英语原文附后)


在北京,废弃的纸板,纸张和塑料瓶马上可以换到现金,每天早上,付现金“收破烂”的男子在街头蹬着三轮车吆喝着“收废品!收废品!”各种各样可回收的废品都炙手可热,以致于一袋垃圾很少有不经收废物者翻得底朝天就能放到路边让垃圾车运走的。

 

周末双语ZT:废品回收业艰难度日

北京的大部分可回收废料都会运到首都北部郊区的东小口村,在那里有700家人在给收上来的废物分类,准备给废物以第二次生命。东小口村的各个院子里都是垃圾山:成堆的旧散热器,成堆的纸板,旧的轮胎和内胎,堆成山的细碎玻璃片,卷曲纠缠的钢筋像鸟巢和装过食用油的空桶、油壶用绳子串在一起。围着一座收废料的人住的的砖房,塑料瓶堆积如山足有两层楼高。

 

中国30年的经济繁荣,引发了对亚洲和非洲许多原材料的需求,同样还也引发了对加工制造业对回收废纸,塑料和金属的需求。近年来,还引发出不少令人惊讶的故事:世界各地的下水道井盖突然间都被偷走了;垃圾运输工也能够成为从中发小财的工作;硬币被融化掉,因为硬币作为金属的价值,已经超过了作为货币的价值,中国成为硬币的大买家。


中国的废品贸易,使得两类人都得益了:一类是像玖龙纸业的首席执行官张茵一样的人,她在2006年被评为中国最富有的人;另一类,是农村来的非常贫困的农民,他们收废品的收入,比种田的收入还高。

“没准什么地方就有一个你用过的瓶子,”坐在废品堆旁边的一位妇女,快速地抓起一个又一个的瓶子,把标签扯掉,压扁装进一个篮子里。

东小口村的废品收购站的繁忙,也展现出中国过去二十年里的经济荣景,不过如今全球经济放缓令原材料价格直线下降,废品收购业也在苦苦挣扎。在东小口村,可以看到一伙的河南的男子围着一张桌子玩扑克消磨时光。他们手里都有巨大成堆的塑料瓶,他们可以卖掉,但是如果他们现在卖,就会赔钱,因为废料的价格已经下降到了前所未见的低点。

 

“你想知道为什么我们的价格下跌吗?”20年前从河南来到这个村子的43岁的张忠明(Zhang Zhongming,音译)说,“是因为美国的经济危机。它影响整个世界。我们要亏掉50%。”

 

美国和欧洲消费需求的放缓造成中国工厂在减产,尽管10月份,中国的出口增长按年率计算依然达到了19%,一些经济学家认为,到年底,中国的出口增长率可能低于10%,因为今年的圣诞季节的产品如电子产品的订单已经缩水。而中国的消费者非常节俭,他们还弥补不了出口需求下降的口子。在全球动荡,中国人增加收入的预期处在多年来的最低水平。所有这一切,都威胁着东小口,使得一个繁忙的废料回收的经济中心变成了一个名副其实的大型垃圾场。

“这就好比一双鞋一样,”王占跟(Wang Zhangen,音译)站在一堆玻璃旁说道,这堆玻璃将要运往260英里外的邯郸的一家工厂,“如果你觉得自己有钱,你可以买一双新鞋。如果你没钱,就还穿这双。没有人买汽车或买房子,所以也没有人要玻璃了。”

 

42岁的男子张伟(Zhang Wei,音译)1990年从河南来到北京。在河南老家,他一家六口靠耕种三分之一英亩地艰难度日。“以前没人愿意干这一行,只有那些外地人、吃不起肉的乡下穷人才会做这行。”如今,贫困的幽灵再现。他们收上来的塑料瓶子,今年夏天还可以卖1175到1300美元一吨,如今才300到500美元一吨。张伟表示,由于废品价格下降,他周围的收购商都在亏本,亏的钱从6000美元到1.5万美元不等。

附近,一名男子正在修理一台塑料瓶碎片机。这名男子也像这里大多数的村民一样,在90年代初从农村迁移到这里来。“我们是来这儿找活儿干的,因为这里比河南好,”他说。但是现在他就不那么肯定了,但他知道,回老家,情况也不会比这儿好。这台机器,现在修好了,震耳欲聋地响起来。“做些什么?”他茫然地耸了耸肩,开始喂旧塑料瓶进机器。还是干活吧,这就是答案。东小口的废品收购者只能寄希望于全球经济不久的将来,会跟着好起来。

Thursday, Nov. 20, 2008
In China, Hard Times at the Scrap Heap
By Austin Ramzy

In Beijing, the dividends from recycling are instant: hard cash for discarded cardboard, paper and plastic bottles, paid by the junk men who trawl the streets on tricycles each morning, yelling "Collecting scrap! Collecting scrap!" So fierce is the demand that a bag of trash rarely makes it to the curb before someone is poking through it in search of recyclables.
The destination of much of Beijing's recyclable scrap is Dongxiaokou village, on the capital's northern outskirts, where 700 families work on sorting and preparing it for a second life. The yards of Dongxiaokou are filled with stacks of old radiators, piles of cardboard, old tires and inner tubes, mounds of glass smashed into tiny shards, nests of tangled rebar and cooking-oil jugs looped together with string. A mountain of plastic bottles more than two stories tall looms over the squat brick buildings where recyclers live and work. "Somewhere in there is a bottle you used," says a woman as she sits at the edge of the pile, rapidly grabbing bottle after bottle, stripping their labels and tossing the shorn containers into a basket.
Just as China's economic boom fueled a roaring demand for the raw materials of much of Asia and Africa, so has it spurred an insatiable appetite for recyclable scrap paper, plastic and metals. In recent years, amazing stories have emerged around the world about stolen manhole covers, junk haulers making healthy salaries, and coins being melted down because their value as scrap, with China the big buyer, exceeded their face value. China's scrap trade has lifted the fortunes of both the very wealthy — such as Nine Dragons Paper CEO Zhang Yin, whose recycled-paper manufacturing company made her China's richest person in 2006 — and very poor farmers who have migrated to the city to earn more from recycling than they ever could by working the land.
While Dongxiaokou's scrap yards have epitomized China's industrial boom over the past two decades, the global economic slowdown has left the scrappers struggling as prices for raw materials plummet. A group of men from Henan sit at a table playing a card game called "Fight the Landlord." They're the owners of a huge mound of plastic bottles they could process, but if they sold them now, they would lose money — scrap prices have fallen to levels not seen in years. "You want to know why our prices are dropping?" says Zhang Zhongming, 43, who moved to the village 20 years ago from Henan. "It's because of the U.S. economic crisis. It's affecting the whole world. We're facing 50% losses."
Slowing consumer demand in America and Europe has cut output at Chinese factories — although China's exports grew at an annual rate of 19% in October, some economists believe that could fall below 10% by the end of the year because of lower Christmas-season orders for products like electronics. And China's notoriously thrifty consumers haven't made up for the drop in foreign demand. Amid the global turmoil, their expectations for rising incomes are at the lowest level recorded in years. All of that threatens to turn Dongxiaokou from the epicenter of a bustling recycling economy into a massive junkyard.
"It's like a pair of shoes," says Wang Zhangen as he stands next to a pile of glass destined for a factory in Handan, 260 miles away. "If you're feeling wealthy, you can buy a new pair of shoes. If you're not, you wear the same ones. Nobody is buying cars or houses, so no one needs glass."
Zhang Wei, 42, came here in 1990 from Henan, where his family of six was struggling to live by farming one-third of an acre. "In the past, nobody would do this work," he says. "It's for the outsiders, poor people from the countryside where they can't earn enough to eat meat even." Now the specter of deprivation is emerging again. Plastic bottles, which sold for $1,175 to $1,300 a ton as recently as the summer, are now trading in the $300-to-$450-a-ton range. Zhang claims that as a result of the downturn in scrap prices, the losses sustained by some of his neighbors have ranged from $6,000 to $150,000.
Nearby, a man repairs a machine that shreds plastic bottles into nickel-size shards. Like most residents of the village, he migrated here from the countryside in the early '90s. "We came to work, because it's better than Henan," he says. Now he isn't so sure, but he knows that things won't be any better if he returns. The machine, now fixed, roars to life. "What to do?" he wonders with a shrug as he begins feeding old bottles into the machine. Back to work, that's his answer. The scrappers of Dongxiaokou can only hope the global economy follows suit.

 

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