Colourful Chinese millionaire Chen Guangbiao built his fortune through his recycling company, Huangpu Renewable Resources Utilization Group. Boosting his reputation in China with publicity stunts based on philanthropic acts or environmental messages he sold “canned air” in Beijing to raise awareness about ecological issues. He has also donated Chinese made cars to victims of anti-Japanese demonstrations who had their Japanese made cars smashed and provided relief to disaster areas in Japan and China, visiting the areas in person with aid materials. He and his wife changed their names to Low Carbon and Green in a bid to bring focus to environmental issues in China.
Chen established his recycling company following the demolition of a stadium in Nanjing. He was not paid for the job and needed to find a way to make it pay. He was able to earn a profit by selling the used iron to iron and steel companies and recycling the cement blocks back into concrete (by mixing with water, cement and sand). He recognised an opportunity and found that all the construction waste could be transformed into at least seven types of building materials, such as landfill, red brick and building blocks. With China producing 2 billion tons of construction waste, it is a rich market for recycling.
Kartaway began in Melbourne with humble beginnings as a cartage company in 1892. Established by James Paul Whelan, the company moved into the demolition business, selling second hand materials from the sites. His company, Whelan The Wrecker, became a famous icon in Melbourne. The company grew over the years, acquiring other businesses including mini skips. Nowadays the company is known as Kartaway and runs a public recycling depot in East Brunswick. Still run by the Whelan family,hiring bins and skips to the public and customising waste management programs for businesses and organisations, Kartaway Melbourne recycles most waste collected. The Recycling Depot at 32 Kirkdale Road is affordable, accessible and open 7 days a week.
Chen Guangbiao’s love of publicity has seen him featured in the world news recently as he declares he will buy a share in the New York Times. The Whelan family will probably not follow suite on Chen’s latest venture!