For two and a half decades, Asian countries took in two-thirds of the world’s plastic for recycling. China alone imported nearly half of this number which has allowed first-world countries to reduce plastic waste significantly. It was a shock to the world when, at the beginning of 2018, they announced a plastics ban because of contaminants in the materials. The news caused significant global market turmoil as producers looked for new market buyers. Now that China has closed its recycling doors to the world, there needs to be a new recycling plan since there is also a new issue on the rise because China wishes to phase out solid waste by 2020.
Based on data released on June 24 by the State Council, China’s move was a countermeasure to pollution which will also phase out imported scrap materials. While it is an ever-increasing situation globally, it also offers Americans an opportunity to find new sources locally for recycling by expanding markets because of the unsustainability of one country shouldering the plastic waste of the world. While there will be many issues that will prevent an easy fix, there is also a high probability that engineers, scientists, and citizens will work together to develop an innovative domestic partnership that identifies a new biodegradable product and disposal design.
There is also an economic issue since recyclers are no longer able to sell plastic internationally. As it is viable economically, it serves a purpose to local recyclers that wants to invest in this disposal practice. Now, the plastic has no place to go other than American landfills which means it will pile up at a faster rate than experts previously expected. It also adds another element to the conversation in that if the material is contaminated, how will it affect product consumers?
As just under ten percent of plastic was being recycled worldwide, it leaves richer nations to question what they will do with the 800% loss in plastic materials. Will a local recycler pick up the import and export responsibilities? Is it time for America to invest in new technology to recycle it for our own manufacturing needs? How are the contaminants affecting the process?
How do we ensure that the plastic is not compromised since it goes back into the housing of 89% of consumable products? The most active exporters included Japan for polystyrene and the U.S. and Germany which exports polyethylene. Now that 123 countries have no place to export this waste, it is vital to identify economic qualifiers to take on plastic waste processing.
Even though there is little chance of garbage building up in your local neighborhood, there is a high likelihood that it will put significant pressure on American companies to purchase more recycled plastic from local vendors. It also offers the American government an opportunity to provide initiatives for companies who step up and invest in plastic recycling business practices.
As we are local Massachusetts recyclers, we are closely monitoring this development to find a solution for our residents. Do you want to know more about recycling? Give us a call at 781-941-2422 or contact us on Facebook where we can address all of your recycling concerns.