Financial Times: Global Recycling Crisis

Increases in online shopping combined with China’s ban on many plastic and other waste imports as of this year disrupted the global recycling industry, increasing costs and leaving piles of trash in communities and ports. The $200 billion industry processes more than 270 million tons of waste each year into new products – clothing, construction materials and more as described in a 2016 YaleGlobal article. China’s “new policy, called the ‘National Sword,’ was so drastic that when it was first announced many people in the industry did not believe it would actually be implemented,” reports Financial Times. “China and Hong Kong went from buying 60 per cent of the plastic waste exported by G7 countries during the first half of 2017, to taking less than 10 per cent during the same period a year later.” The ban exposed corruption, pollution and exports of worthless materials to less developed nations that lack the industrial know-how of Chinese companies. Some unscrupulous importers accept electronic waste for bits of copper before burning the rest. In less than a year, nations like Vietnam impose their own restrictions as Asians question, if recycling is so good for the planet, why don’t developed nations do more processing? In the meantime, Chinese investors open recycling facilities in Japan, Europe and the United States – requiring high standards on cleanliness from consumers and operators. The world’s growing population must reduce waste by reusing and purchasing less. – YaleGlobal

Financial Times: Global Recycling Crisis

World’s recycling system stalls and waste piles high as China sets new standards and refuses to become the West’s dumping ground for plastics, paper and more
Leslie Hook and John Reed
Friday, October 26, 2018

Read the article from Financial Times about disruptions in the global recycling industry.

Leslie Hook is the FT’s environment correspondent; John Reed is the FT’s south-east Asia correspondent. Data investigation was provided by David Blood with additional reporting by Ryn Jirenuwat.        

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