Friday, July 13, 2018

Trash wars: US drowning in its own waste, blaming China for rejecting ‘recycled commodities’

US drowning in its own waste, blaming China for rejecting ‘recycled commodities’
Hundreds of tons of waste that Americans believed they were recycling is now piling up in processing plants or being dumped into landfills, as China’s decision to stop buying garbage for environmental reasons begins to bite.

Beijing’s 2017 decision to ban imports of 24 varieties of trash brought to light the real destination of most Western recyclables: They were shipped to Chinese factories, where they would be cleaned up and repurposed into raw materials. China bought half of all US scrap last year, and has recycled 72 percent of all the world’s plastic since 1992, according to a study in the journal Science Advances.

All of that abruptly came to a halt when China decided to stop almost all imports of paper and plastic waste, and have set a .5 percent ceiling on contaminants in cardboard and metal waste, which most US trash processing plants have been unable to meet.

“There is no single and, frankly, probably not even a group of countries, that can take in the volume that China used to take,” Adina Renee Adler, of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries in Washington, DC told AFP. “The biggest issue here is that China just gave very little time for the industry to transition.”

Garbage previously shipped to China is now piling up in places like the processing plant in Elkridge, Maryland, where tons of trash arrive every day from the US capital. The District is already paying $75-a-ton for recycling, and only $46-per-ton for garbage that is being burned to generate electricity......

China no longer dumping ground for foreign waste

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