Chinese millionaire Chen Guangbiao built his fortune through his recycling company, Huangpu Renewable Resources Utilization Group. At the same time, he has boosted his reputation in China with publicity stunts based on philanthropic acts or focussed on environmental messages, such as selling “canned air” in Beijing to raise awareness about ecological issues. He and his wife changed their names to Low Carbon and Green.
Chen began as an entrepreneur at an early age selling clean water to a nearby village, he went on to run several businesses before attending university. He became involved in the demolition of an old stadium in Nanjing. Coming up with the idea of selling the used iron, he hoped to make a profit as he was not being paid for the demolition. It turns out he had the right idea, he made a profit of $272,000!
He then established a recycling company, selling iron to iron and steel companies and recycling cement blocks back into concrete (by mixing with water, cement and sand). He 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. China produces 2 billion tons of construction waste, creating a rich market for recycling.
Kartaway in Australia came about from slightly different beginnings, with James Paul Whelan starting up a cartage company in 1892, gradually moving into demolition and sale of the second hand materials from the sites, and the famous Whelan The Wrecker was born. After a period of acquisition and growth the company became Kartaway and now run public recycling depots in Melbourne and Adelaide. Hiring bins and skips to the public and customising waste management programs for businesses and organisations the business focusses strongly on the recycling of most materials.
Chen Guangbiao has been in the world news recently as he makes a bid for a sizeable share in the New York Times. The Whelan family will probably not follow suite on Chen’s latest venture!