Inference to the Best Explanation: Cell Phone Recycling in Shenzhen, China

16 Aug

Gutierrez, Liahona A.                                                                                     August 2, 2011

08-23969                                                                                                         Soc Sci 180 – JX

Inference to the Best Explanation: Cell Phone Recycling in Shenzhen, China

Cell phones are rampant nowadays and termed to be a necessity. Due to technological advances, newer versions are released that caused degradation of older versions. Because of this, people ought to replace their old cell phones with new ones. In connection to this, there have been many ways devised by men in order to reduce pollution caused by throwing away old cell phones. One way is recycling. Now, cell phones to be (or once) dumped can be remodeled and reused.

In Shenzhen, China, cell phone recycling exists. In an article at tech Travel (2010), it was able to show how vast the market of cell phone recycling. The article was able to show how huge the number of dumped cell phones is.  There are pictures that show how thorough and meticulous the way the parts of a phone are being detached from each other. The small pieces got from the phone go into groups for repacking and then, be delivered to factories to form recycled cell phones. According to Mark Peters (2007), Shenzhen receives two million cell phones annually. Why is Shenzhen the place where most of the reject cell phones located?

In CBSNews web site, an article entitled Following the Trail of Toxic E-Waste (2010) was written regarding where do America’s reject cell phoesn go. United of America’s population is extremely big and I wonder if each of its citizen would throw their cell phones and have new ones, how many old cell phones would add up to the world’s waste? The 60 Minutes team found out that the reject cell phones of USA are not really properly disposed (CBSNews, 2010). Cell phones have toxins and chemicals hazardous to human populace (CBSNews, 2010). The team found out that rejected phones are contained to a ship and was dispatched in Victoria Harbor in Hong Kong (CBSNews, 2010).

Geographically, Shenzhen is in the northern part of Hong Kong (from official web site of Shenzhen). This can be a reason why the city is always loaded with reject cell phones. It can be concluded that once the ship from USA was unloaded in Hong Kong, the cell phones will be delivered to Shenzhen. This can be possible since they are neighboring places.

Another reason can be drawn out with the basis of history. In 1980, Shenzhen was considered to be the first economic zone of China (from official website of Shenzhen). Because of this, it would be probable that the city has strong magnet of business. The cell phones could have been delivered there because of the high possibility of this kind of cell phone to be sold here.

Shenzhen was considered to be one of the “firsts in the history of world industrialization, urbanization and modernization” (from official web site of Shenzhen). Because of this historical background, there is also a reason why cell phones are being brought in this place to be improved or be used again.

In addition, the city is the first to use GDP green which is defined as “index of economic growth with environmental consequences of that growth factored in, as a performance measure for the city’s development. The economic development of this city also features low-cost, low-energy consumption but high yields and high profit” (from official website of Shenzhen). A reason why rejected phoned are being brought here is because the city is perceived of having the capacity to do something to use again those which were considered to be a waste. A reason why the city accept these reject phoned is because their goal of being efficient through low cost but having high profits. Buying rejects would mean buying in a low price. When the rejects were transformed into improved cell phones, these can be sold in a higher price. This technique or strategy made them more profitable.

From these explanations of why reject cell phones are very rampant in Shenzhen, the explanation of economic is the best explanation and the history-based is the second best explanation. This is because in the geographic-based explanation, Hong Kong can dispatch the rejects to another neighbors (instead of Shenzhen) and so there is no concrete reason of why Shenzhen. The history-based is not the best but could still be a reason because history has the capability to affect the present and the future. So being the first center of economy would give us reason to believe that the city could be able to create new market for rejected cell phones. In addition, the economic process of profit maximization could still be considered as the best since it is able to convey that the present goal of the city could have an effect on its action –the recycling of cell phones which was considered of the world to be waste but in deeper perspective, a profitable waste.












Peters, Mark (2007). Mobile Phone Recycling Facility. Retrieved last June 20, 2011 in

TechTravel (2010). Shenzhen – Phone recycling -1- “ Techtravels. Retrieved last June 20, 2011 in

TechTravel (2010). Shenzhen – Phone recycling -2- “ Techtravels. Retrieved last June 20, 2011 in

TechTravel (2010). Shenzhen – Phone recycling -3- “ Techtravels. Retrieved last June 20, 2011 in

TechTravel (2010). Shenzhen – Phone recycling -4- “ Techtravels. Retrieved last June 20, 2011 in

Shenzhen Official Website. Retrieved last June 20, 2011 in

CBSNews (2010). Following The Trail of Toxic E-Waste. Retrived last June 20, 2011 in





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