Migrant workers and elderly digging through waste bins for plastic bottles in Shanghai is no uncommon sight, but in Xingtai City in Hebei, over 70 people spend their lives scavenging around a garbage dump to earn their daily wages.
Young and old alike prowl the mountains of trash in search of metal, broken electronics, and the occasional rare unspoiled bushel of oranges (as seen in one picture). Most are migrant workers, hailing from nearby counties and Chongqing,
Electronics are the most sought after of the treasures, and parts from an old mobile phone can fetch upwards of 100RMB. There are rumors that one of the elderly working in the dump has earned over one million RMB over years of sifting through the refuse.
Even garbage dumps have social hierarchies, with Chen Lin and his wife (pictured wearing neat clothing and holding their daughter) fulfilling the role of an educated, worldly couple. They graduated from a training school and at one time worked in Guangdong — a province so distant in the minds of their neighbors it might as well be in South America.
As China’s cities continue to prosper, these photos serve as a reminder of the ever-widening disparity of income that exists between the rich, and the poor who scramble over what wealth “trickles-down” into the landfills.