Meet Liu Gan, King of Trash

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Shanghai and other Chinese cities are filled with enterprising men like Zhang Liu Gan. Liu is a trash collector. He works informally alongside waste disposal units to haul urban garbage to local landfills. On a good month, he brings in two to three times what he might make working in the country’s poor rural areas. Moreover, as Chinese continue their buying spree, it’s a boom business. The downside is the growth of landfills, where nearly 90 percent of China’s trash and garbage ends up. Even a plan that calls for more incineration is unlikely to change the country’s ambiguous relationship to its environment.


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