Why China’s ban on plastic waste should be an opportunity for western countries
January 30, 2018
On 1st January 2018 China banned the import of certain plastics and recycling materials, due to environmental concerns around the way these are recycled. Basically saying to the world “keep your own waste” or as the phrase goes, “Not in our backyard”.
Looking at the Chinese argument any other country would think the same way. Why should a country come to the rescue to recycle plastic waste since they can’t deal with it themselves?
The issue has seen levels of plastics build up in yards across the UK and other countries. Some companies in the UK stopped sending plastic to China in the autumn as they feared this would not get to China in time for the ban on 1st January.
Countries like the UK don’t have enough plastic recycling plants to process the amount of waste produced. Some have even indicated that the recent announcement in the UK around plastic recycling has only happened due to the China ban.
This now creates an opportunity for the UK and other countries to increase their recycling infrastructure inhouse which would have a dramatic impact on costs and the environment. Transporting millions of tons of plastics off to another country and closing your eyes to the problem has went on for too long from my countries.
So China will gain by not having the waste from foreign countries to deal with, western countries will have an opportunity to recycle waste, create jobs and use the recycled material to create new industries. Another benefit maybe that countries start to look at plastic waste and reduce it, which the UK has already announced. Wait and see more countries do likewise.