12/16/2018

Trash piles up in US as China closes door to recycling

Last year, China bought up more than half of the scrap materials exported by the United States.

. . . Globally, since 1992, 72 percent of plastic waste has ended up in China and Hong Kong, according to a study in the journal Science Advances.

But since January, China has closed its borders to most paper and plastic waste in line with a new environmental policy pushed by Beijing, which no longer wants to be the world’s trash can, or even its recycle bin.

For other waste products such as cardboard and metal, China has set a contamination level of 0.5 percent — a threshold too low for most current US technology to handle.

US waste handlers say they expect China will close its doors to all recycled materials by 2020 — an impossibly short deadline.

“There is no single and frankly, probably not even a group of countries, that can take in the volume that China used to take,” warns Adina Renee Adler of the Washington-based Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries.

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