It is an open secret that China has become the world’s largest importer of foreign waste for many decades. Last year, China imported over US$18 billion worth of waste, mostly coming from developed countries such as the US and Japan. It imported 7.3 million metric tons of waste plastics alone, representing 56 percent of the world total, valued at US$3.7 billion.
According to the Wall Street Journal, in 2016 over two-thirds of the US’ waste paper exports and over 40 percent of its discarded plastic exports were sent to China, while paper and plastic scrap exports to China were worth over US$2.2 billion. The EU27 is similarly dependent on China to take its waste, as it sends 87 percent of its recycled plastic directly or indirectly to China. But the recycling process itself can be highly polluting within China.
China will ban the import of 24 types of waste by the end of the year as part of a campaign against “foreign garbage”.The ban will go into effect on December 31, 2017. Where will the foreign waste go? Why are other countries dumping their crap on China?