For years the U.S. and many other countries have been doing "aspirational" recycling... a term used to describe the collection of used materials like plastic which are not made into new products, but rather are shipped off in ocean containers to countries like China. Well, China has finally woke up to their own pollution problem and no longer wants our trash. This actually now creates a very big problem for the U.S...and particularly the Pacific Northwest. 

The amount that China was accepting is staggering--some 106 million metric tons of plastic annually. So now, countries who were exporting their plastics, will have to find a new way to dispose or recycle plastics or, and equally important, find alternative materials. And while other 3rd world countries have increase their acceptance of plastic recyclables, some are already starting to backtrack on those agreements due to oversupply and environmental concerns.

According to researchers at the University of Georgia who conducted the study of China's situation and the plastic recyclables business:

  • Nearly 80% of all plastics have been buried in landfills or the environment
  • About 10% of plastics have been burned
  • Several million tons end up in oceans (remember the Pacific Garbage Patch?)
  • Only 9% of all plastics are actually recycled into new products

And, what's worse, the industry's capability to produce over 322 million tons annually is far exceeding our capability to dispose of it. To summarize, the researchers wrote: "Without bold new ideas and management strategies, current recycling rates will no longer be met, and ambitious goals and timelines for future recycling growth will be insurmountable." 

So while Melania may not care, I do.  Do you?

#recycling #china  #plastics  #kickinggas   #sustainability