Guangzhou Iron & Steel Enterprises: going from strength to strength in e-waste recycling, ten years on

GISE building

MBA Polymers joined forces with Guangzhou Iron & Steel Enterprises Group (GISE) in 2004 to create a processing plant in Guangzhou, China. The joint venture, known as MBAPC, processes 32,000 tonnes of e-waste annually, employs 150 people and produces high quality recycled plastic for high end manufacturers. It’s located within a short distance of many of the world’s largest consumer electronics and IT hardware companies.

Established in 1958 by the Guangzhou National Asset Commission, GISE was originally a steel factory. When the GISE Group formed in 2000, it specialised in the production of ferrous and non-ferrous metals, and industrial gas. At its peak in 2008, the company had an annual capacity of 5.5m tonnes of steel. Its annual revenue is now 30bn RMB (£3bn) and it employs 5,000 people.

Jack Chen of GISE met MBA founder Mike Biddle in 2003 through the mayor of Guangzhou city and quickly understood the commercial potential of producing high quality recycled materials from post-consumer waste.

“Creating a joint venture with MBA Polymers made good business sense,” says Chen, Assistant to the General Manager at MBAPC. “With the volume of electronic waste in China set to grow as the population becomes more affluent, we identified a real opportunity to transform this waste into valuable raw materials, drawing on MBA’s world-leading recycling expertise. Chinese policy-makers had also started pushing for more plastic to be recycled from e-waste, so we anticipated an increasing volume of waste material to process.”

“Our joint venture with GISE is MBA’s first recycling venture in China,” says Nigel Hunton, CEO, MBA Polymers. “It was important to us to find the right partner to launch a Chinese recycling operation, and our collaboration with GISE continues to develop. We’re looking forward to seeing the business develop with their strong support over the next ten years as they raise awareness of our role in leading credible plastics recycling in China.”

In 2013, China’s ‘Operation Green Fence’, a ten-month clampdown on sub-standard recyclables crossing its borders, put many small Chinese plastics recyclers out of business, according to Chen. While forthcoming policies are still unknown, it’s clear that Beijing will keep up the pressure on both the quality of recyclables entering the country and on its domestic recycling industry. Currently, its plastic recycling industry has a poor reputation for using highly polluting recycling processes, employing child labour and violating health and safety regulations.

“Legitimate, high tech, environmental friendly recycling companies will therefore be welcomed by Chinese government,” comments Chen.

Looking ahead, MBAPC will face competition both domestically and internationally, as more Chinese recyclers look to establish plastics processing plants and Europe slowly exports less waste in favour of growing its own recycling industry. The challenge of illegal recyclers also remains, while China evaluates how to regulate its recycling industry effectively.


“We’re delighted to celebrate our ten-year collaboration with MBA and the results we’ve achieved to date,” says Chen. “I have a positive outlook and big ambitions for the future of our business, despite a competitive marketplace. “We’ll continue to grow by improving our performance and building our relationships with high end customers. In fact, we expect to process 39,752 tonnes of waste material in 2014, a 24% increase year-on-year.”

GISE celebrated its tenth anniversary of working with MBA with a company dinner and sports day, which saw MBAPC employees being rewarded for their hard work and engaging in fun, team-building activities, including tug-of-war. Every employee and key customers received a souvenir plate depicting two horses striding forward, a symbol of the continual progress made by MBA and GISE. The General Manager of MBAPC, RenWu Cai, announced that looking forward, MBAPC would be developing compound plastic products, in addition to recycled plastic.

» See more pictures from the celebration