“… ‘It was like an earthquake,’ Arnaud Brunet, director general of Brussels-based industry group The Bureau of International Recycling, said…” reported by AFP on Jan 21, 2018. It was a response to China’s official ban of plastic waste import with effect from the first day of 2018.
“The EU exports half of its collected and sorted plastics, 85% of which goes to China. Ireland alone exported 95% of its plastic waste to China in 2016. That same year, the US shipped more than 16 million tones of scrap commodities to China …”
As the West can no longer dump their waste to the developing countries, where you can find another brilliant example in The Philippines, they one after one announce some sort of plans to discourage consumers from using plastic bags, bottles … etc.
In May 2018, the EU Commission proposed to member states a rule with several plans “… which include an outright ban on single-use plastics …”
One year after that, Canada reluctantly came to face this reality, and announced on June 10, 2019 that they would also ban single-use plastic by as early as 2021.
What happened to them? What had made up their mind?
In a review, published in April 2019 by the ‘Phys.org’ (which is the flagship journal of Science X since 2004 with a readership of 5 million scientists), the unpleasant reality the West has been facing is that “China plastic waste ban throws global recycling into chaos”.
A study conducted by Yale also reported similar result in March 2019. “…Globally more plastics are now ending up in landfills, incinerators, or likely littering the environment as rising costs to haul away recyclable materials increasingly render the practice unprofitable. In England, more than half-a-million more tons of plastics and other household garbage were burned last year. Australia’s recycling industry is facing a crisis as the country struggles to handle the 1.3 million-ton stockpile of recyclable waste it had previously shipped to China…”
The only way out is to reduce the production of plastics. Surely, it will be a painful process since so many consumers have become used to using plastic products for packing or containing.
China itself is leading in this sphere. According to their trial-and-error methodology tradition, Beijing has decided to run an experiment at its resort island province Hainan. “… Hainan will ban the production, sale and use of all single-use non-biodegradable plastics by 2025 in a bid to ease pollution, state media reported, citing the province’s environmental bureau. Such a move has “been identified by the United Nations as one of the world’s biggest environmental challenges …”
Perhaps, we may feel a bit inconvenient or uncomfortable, or even a sense of suffering. Yet, it’s time to bear this ‘suffering’ so as the make our Earth not so dirty (we are still far far away from being ‘clean’).
The opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of China Daily Mail.