|Title||Southeast Asian plastic recyclers hope to clean up after China ban|
|Date||2018-01-18 AM 11:00:21||Hit||173|
Before the ban, which shocked many in the industry, China was the world’s dominant importer of such waste. In 2016, it imported 7.3 million tonnes of waste plastics, valued at $3.7 billion, accounting for 56 per cent of world imports.
Over the past two decades, China was keen to suck in as much plastic waste as possible, helping feed its manufacturing expansion. But policy makers took action after a string of scandals involving unscrupulous players in the waste market.
Misdemeanours included stuffing containers with mixed or toxic rubbish rather than the specific types labelled for recycling, and illegal smuggling of waste that was simply dumped in landfill.
“Plastic China”, an award-winning documentary released in late 2016, ignited further public outrage by highlighting the human and environmental costs of the under-regulated, Wild West-style recycling industry.
As part of efforts to clean up China’s environment, including promoting electric cars and cutting coal use, Beijing launched a campaign against harmful “foreign garbage” last year.
Some of the worst-hit exporters of plastic waste are based in the United States and Britain - leaving those two countries scrambling to find alternative places to take their rubbish.
“The industry was not prepared for it,” said Surendra Patawari Borad, a businessman who runs a recycling company in Belgium and the United States and chairs the plastics committee at the Brussels-based Bureau of International Recycling (BIR).
“I used to say about Europe and the U.S., if China gets a cold, we get a fever, and if China gets a fever, we get pneumonia,” he added.
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