China blocked the import of waste, the rich countries panic

News 21 January, 2018
  • AFP


    Sunday, 21 January 2018 15:57

    Sunday, 21 January 2018 15:57

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    Landfill or incineration? By blocking the import of certain waste, the China, world’s leading destination for recycling, poses the risk of a “disaster scenario” for the environment in the rich countries… and puts it in the mess of his own recovery industry.

    Since the 1st of January, the door of the asian giant is closed to the 24 categories of solid waste, including some plastics, paper and textiles, a measure announced just six months earlier by Beijing, which advance the ecological reasons.


    This redrawing of the global market of waste is problematic for the american industrial and european, accustomed to see a China hungry for raw materials absorb most of their waste for recycling, and that have very little time to return.

    “It is an earthquake” and “it was always the shock wave. This has put our industry in a situation of stress, because China is simply the world’s leading market for the export of recyclable materials”, laments Arnaud Brunet, director of the international Bureau of recycling (BIR) based in Brussels.

    The european Union (EU) exports half of its plastics are collected and sorted, of which 85% were to China. The United States have them sent in 2016 in China more than half of their exports of waste of non-ferrous metals, paper and plastics, or 16.2 million tons.


    “We will seek alternatives, try to identify new markets of substitutions, assuming that they had the capabilities of processing: we are talking about India, Pakistan or Cambodia,” suggests Mr. Brunet.

    But that could take time: “The processing capabilities do not move like that from one day to the next day”, and in the immediate future, the accumulation of waste, notably in Europe, is “a major risk”, he warns.

    With as a “disaster scenario,” the perspective that these wastes are incinerated or placed in landfills.

    In the United States, “factories are working on how to store their waste and “some of the store on the parking lots or on external sites,” says AFP Brandon Wright, a spokesman for the NWRA, american federation of waste and recycling.


    The immediate impact will be devastating: according to estimates “conservative” of the BIR, the global exports of paper to China, may plunge by a quarter between 2016 and 2018 and those of the plastic collapse of 80% in two years, from 7.35 to 1.5 million tonnes.

    But some seem to be more reassuring: “We have been working for years to develop in India, Vietnam, Thailand, and even in Latin America,” says Brent Bell, head of Waste Management, the first recycler north-american garbage.

    “The recent investment of several paper american we can move (waste) to these alternative markets,” continued Mr. Bell, who was interviewed by the NPR radio.


    The prohibition of Beijing also poses a thorny problem for the chinese companies in the recycling, are highly dependent on waste western.

    “This is going to become difficult to work,” admits Zhang Jinglian, owner of a processing company of waste plastic, Huizhou Qingchun. More than half of its “raw material” is imported and its production will therefore be reduced to “at least one” third party, ” he explains to the AFP, saying they have had recently is to separate a dozen employees.


    The implications are more drastic still, for the company Nantong Heju, in Jiangsu (east): “We stop our activity and seek now we convert back,” says a manager at AFP.

    The decision in china may ultimately have a positive impact in strengthen the channels of reprocessing.

    The EU has unveiled on Tuesday its strategy for reducing the use of single-use plastics, with the goal that all packages of this type are recyclable by 2030.

    Only 30% of the plastic waste of the Europeans are recycled at the present time. The rest ends up incinerated to produce energy (39%) or discharge (31%).

    “We should use this decision to challenge ourselves and ask ourselves why we, Europeans, are not able to recycle our own waste,” argues the commissioner Frans Timmermans.