Ecology / Newsletter of 1 Juillet 2019

Global recycling in total chaos following new policy in China

China no longer wants to be the world’s waste bin. Such was the decision of the Chinese government in late 2018, the effects of which are now being felt from South-East Asia to North America. Where China previously imported up to 600,000 tonnes of paper and plastic for recycling per month, this quota has been slashed to just 30,000 tonnes.

As a result, western countries no longer know what to do with their waste and are resorting to incineration or exporting it to other emerging or developing countries. Such is the case in Malaysia, which was overwhelmed by no fewer than 870,000 tonnes of waste last year. Enough to stir its government into action, announcing a freeze and closing the doors on some 33 new recycling plants on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur.

A similar situation in Vietnam and Thailand, where governments have also taken measures to curb this industry, which creates high levels of air and water pollution. But according to a Greenpeace report, the waste is now being directed towards more lenient countries such as Indonesia or Turkey.

The only solution is to follow the example of Adelaide, Australia. When the crisis erupted, the city decided to take its waste management into its own hands and now processes 80% of its waste locally. “We've found that by supporting local manufacturers, we've been able to get back to pre-China ban prices”, highlights Adam Faulkner, CEO of the North Adelaide Waste Management Authority.


Most recent articles