The global recycling crisis shows the West developed nations can’t abuse poorer countries as their dumping grounds anymore.
India has followed China’s lead and banned imports of solid plastic waste in an effort to tackle its own environmental crisis, but the move has added to an ever-growing global recycling and plastics crisis.
One year ago, the Chinese government implemented its ‘National Sword’ policy, which put a stop to the massive flow of recyclable plastic waste from Western countries.
Plastic imports to China were down 99% in the first year since the new import restriction came into force.
Until the Chinese ban, the USA, UK, Germany and Japan were among the biggest exporters of plastic to China.
The new rules forced them to look elsewhere to send their plastic recyclables. UK exports to Malaysia nearly tripled, while exports to Thailand were 50 times greater.
The USA is the biggest plastic exporter to Malaysia, sending 195,444 tonnes between January and July 2018 alone.
But the Chinese and Indian bans have shown that exporting plastic waste is unsustainable and Thailand and Malaysia, too, have announced bans, not wanting to continue on as the dumping ground for the world’s plastic waste.
The current developments in the field of plastic disposal are likely to put developed nations in a bind. Plastic waste tends to have a tremendous adverse effect on human health.
Organic carbon-based compounds act as hormone disrupter’s, which especially interfere with the endocrine systems and female reproductive organs, leaving to complicated disorders and birth defects.
The developed world could be left with no alternative but to deal with it @ home.
In the USA, the National Waste and Recycling Association (NWRA) recently asked President Donald Trump to raise China’s ban as part of trade talks with the Chinese government.
While Westerners dutifully separate their papers and plastics, believing that they will be properly recycled in far off lands, very often that is not the case at all.
A Greenpeace investigation last year found that much of the waste sent to Malaysia for recycling is not recycled at all, but burned (adding to air pollution) or simply dumped into the environment.
The countries the West is sending its waste to are so overwhelmed by it, that it has led to public and environmental health crises that little is ever heard about on Western TV.
Recycling may be all well and good — if the systems in place work — but real problem, experts say, is over-production of plastic in general. Governments around the world have indeed been moving to reduce the production of unnecessary plastic.
As well as banning plastic waste imports, India has set a goal to phase out single-use plastics by 2022, while the EU agreed to ban some single-use plastics including food plates, cutlery, straws, plastic cotton buds and drink stirrers last year.
A whopping 60% of the 25.8 million metric tonnes of plastic waste produced in the EU every year is from packaging, much of which is eventually shipped off to be dealt with somewhere in Asia.
RT. com / ABC Flash Point Plastic Waste News 2019.