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posted by mrpg on Saturday October 21 2017, @07:10AM   Printer-friendly
from the I-dont-know dept.

What will we do when we can't send our junk to China?

The dominant position that China holds in global manufacturing means that for many years China has also been the largest global importer of many types of recyclable materials. Last year, Chinese manufacturers imported 7.3m metric tonnes of waste plastics from developed countries including the UK, the EU, the US and Japan.

However, in July 2017, China announced big changes in the quality control placed on imported materials, notifying the World Trade Organisation that it will ban imports of 24 categories of recyclables and solid waste by the end of the year. This campaign against yang laji or "foreign garbage" applies to plastic, textiles and mixed paper and will result in China taking a lot less material as it replaces imported materials with recycled material collected in its own domestic market, from its growing middle-class and Western-influenced consumers.

The impact of this will be far-reaching. China is the dominant market for recycled plastic. There are concerns that much of the waste that China currently imports, especially the lower grade materials, will have nowhere else to go.


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  • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 21 2017, @07:18AM (10 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 21 2017, @07:18AM (#585593)

    There was a documentary [imdb.com] which addressed this very issue already.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 21 2017, @04:15PM (8 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 21 2017, @04:15PM (#585691)

      > What will we do when we can't send our junk to China [phys.org]?

      While I certainly hope that USA and Europe can figure out how to reuse/recycle our own plastic trash, I have this horrible feeling that a lot of it is going to end up spinning around in the Pacific. Ugh.

      • (Score: 1) by fustakrakich on Saturday October 21 2017, @05:48PM (7 children)

        by fustakrakich (6150) on Saturday October 21 2017, @05:48PM (#585724) Journal

        While I certainly hope that USA and Europe can figure out how to reuse/recycle our own plastic trash

        Every little bit helps [sciencealert.com].

        The only real hurdle left to overcome for large scale recycling is monetization and politics, no different than any other human endeavor.

        --
        La politica e i criminali sono la stessa cosa..
        • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 21 2017, @06:32PM (4 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 21 2017, @06:32PM (#585734)

          "Monetization" IS politics; otherwise profit motive alone would be incentive enough.

          Are you a fan of using armed robbery to fund your pet projects? Because that's what your "political hurdle" would entail.

          • (Score: 1) by fustakrakich on Saturday October 21 2017, @06:47PM (3 children)

            by fustakrakich (6150) on Saturday October 21 2017, @06:47PM (#585738) Journal

            Are you a fan of using armed robbery to fund your pet projects?

            On the contrary. I'm a fan of self defense, against my project being shut down for stepping on some big fat cat's toes. Those are the political hurdles to overcome. All of our problems arise from human obstruction.

            --
            La politica e i criminali sono la stessa cosa..
            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 21 2017, @09:38PM (2 children)

              by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 21 2017, @09:38PM (#585784)

              Since you contradicted the claim of political obstruction, the only other possible problems would come from private persons or organizations. So, tell me then: when was the last time a private organization forcibly stopped you from doing something akin to recycling your own material on your own property?

              • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 21 2017, @10:08PM (1 child)

                by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 21 2017, @10:08PM (#585795)

                You fail again at comprehension...

                • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 22 2017, @06:15AM

                  by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 22 2017, @06:15AM (#585886)

                  No, I don't think so, else it would be simple to explain, given so few words in your post.

                  Who are these "fat cats" keeping you from starting to recycle in bulk? If they're government agents (regardless of who supports them), it is a political problem involving coercion using lethal force. If you claim they're private actors, then I challenge you to show me an example of such a thing being done so it can be dissected and analyzed.

        • (Score: 3, Interesting) by frojack on Saturday October 21 2017, @09:20PM (1 child)

          by frojack (1554) on Saturday October 21 2017, @09:20PM (#585781) Journal

          The only real hurdle left to overcome for large scale recycling is monetization

          China is the dominant market for recycled plastic. There are concerns that much of the waste that China currently imports, especially the lower grade materials, will have nowhere else to go.

          Exactly. Dominant market means the most profitable for the seller of recyclables. The Chinese simply paid more or charged less. It was all dollars and very little sense.

          Its questionable whether recycling actually works at all, and adding a big transport bill to the process only make sense if you want to keep it well away from you town.

          I live within 50 miles of a US manufacturer of playground equipment made of recycled milk and beverage containers. The entire region recycles with curb side pickup.

          Homeowners around this state already wash, rinse, sort (or pay for sort facilities) all plastics as well as just about everything else. We pay recycle centers to take it, to haul it, and we pay them again in property tax levies, for government contracts. They in turn virtually give the sorted and bundled material away.

          Yet the playground equipment is some of the most expensive models you will ever find.
          Even if we handle our own recycling in this country we can't afford to do anything with the recycled materials.

          --
          No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 22 2017, @12:20AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 22 2017, @12:20AM (#585828)

            > Even if we handle our own recycling in this country we can't afford to do anything with the recycled materials.

            I think this says something about the price (very cheap) of petroleum based plastics. The refining process is highly developed/optimized, so it's tough to compete against it with recycled plastics, for many types of products.

    • (Score: 2) by SomeGuy on Saturday October 21 2017, @06:53PM

      by SomeGuy (5632) on Saturday October 21 2017, @06:53PM (#585740)

      If are talking about movies, I would suggest the opening scenes from Wall-E or Idiocracy (which are oddly quite similar)

  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 21 2017, @07:41AM (3 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 21 2017, @07:41AM (#585595)

    That trash was paying part of the cost of ships going back and forth to China. It thus reduced the cost of good bought from China, making the American worker less competitive.

    That trash was raw material. China does all the factory work, and the USA is just a consumer. It's better that the USA find a use for the raw material. That would employ American workers.

    • (Score: 0, Disagree) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 21 2017, @07:54AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 21 2017, @07:54AM (#585598)

      All the jobless homeless destitute former workers in Trump America can eat plastic trash for dinner. The economy has no jobs to sustain them and they will die anyway. Better they die with full stomachs.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 21 2017, @09:13AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 21 2017, @09:13AM (#585607)

      I agree, if the government were for the people, this would be a good occasion to restart some manufacturing activity.
      Unfortunately, If the government were for the people, china would have kept following the west at a distance instead of being a superpower.

    • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 22 2017, @09:05AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 22 2017, @09:05AM (#585906)

      It goes even further. I read a story recently about European bottles water being shipped to Asia from Europe and Asian bottled water shipped back to Asia. Production and transport of these bottles was lower than its price for which it was sold on the market. The people doing that also had large stakes in the ports being used and the stores that sold the water.

  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by jelizondo on Saturday October 21 2017, @05:16PM (5 children)

    by jelizondo (653) Subscriber Badge on Saturday October 21 2017, @05:16PM (#585705) Journal

    A bit over a year ago I had some money in the business of collecting, shredding and shipping plastic materials (mostly polycarbonate) to customers in China. It was good, but I decided to let my partner keep the business as it is way out of my field of knowledge.

    I can tell you that the Chinese, at least the once we dealt with, would take no garbage at all. Any plastic that wasn’t clean was rejected and not paid for and we would incur the shipping expenses as well, so we were very careful to ship only 1st class material (i.e. consumer waste) and any second class material (industrial waste) was shipped only after being accepted by the customer. No third or dirty material was ever requested or accepted.

    So, the reason must be to protect the internal markets and force the recyclers to use Chinese materials instead of importing them. Of course, it must be cheaper to get plastic waste right there than shipping it from half-way around the world.

    We used to ship by the container-load (20 metric tons) and could not get enough to satisfy the demand; now my former partner is sitting on tons of plastic with no customer. I’m glad I left the business early, even if the reason had nothing to do with China stopping the import of materials.

    Some other comments suggest recycling locally. Forget it. The customers for recycled plastic are factories producing something with the plastic and given that most factories are now in China, there are no customers. Just ask my partner.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by takyon on Saturday October 21 2017, @05:40PM (3 children)

      by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Saturday October 21 2017, @05:40PM (#585721) Journal

      I think this comment [soylentnews.org] is right, but only in the long term.

      In the short term people like your partner are still sitting on a pile of garbage and when factories do come back to the U.S., they will be mostly automated with only a few jobs created. There is no reason at all to import container ships worth of assembled stuff from China once Foxconn and others have made the switch to robots.

      --
      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
      • (Score: 5, Interesting) by jelizondo on Saturday October 21 2017, @10:04PM (2 children)

        by jelizondo (653) Subscriber Badge on Saturday October 21 2017, @10:04PM (#585793) Journal

        I think you’re right, with few employees manufacturing can come back to U.S. and it will probably do so: reduced cost of shipping, more availability of raw materials, no language difficulties, no danger of import tariffs, etc.

        However, all those jobs are gone, no matter what anyone says. And no, most people can’t be retrained to move to service jobs, unless it’s flipping burgers and even that is getting highly automated. I think joblessness is here to stay.

        The U.S. and the E.U., need to chart a new course, whether it is a basic minimum income, reduced work hours or some other solution because very few jobs will be available in the near future. Forget the Mexicans, it’s the robots!

        I single out the U.S. and E.U. because in poor countries in Africa, Asia and elsewhere you can make a living (a very poor one) with subsistence agriculture and a couple of chickens. Try that in LA or New York.

        • (Score: 2) by takyon on Saturday October 21 2017, @10:55PM

          by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Saturday October 21 2017, @10:55PM (#585808) Journal

          I single out the U.S. and E.U. because in poor countries in Africa, Asia and elsewhere you can make a living (a very poor one) with subsistence agriculture and a couple of chickens. Try that in LA or New York.

          Let them eat weeds. [soylentnews.org]

          --
          [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 22 2017, @08:59AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 22 2017, @08:59AM (#585904)

          I think joblessness is here to stay.

          It is part of the system. Big corps want to have a save batch of unemployed people, the state pays those people to cope with their situation (with public money) and the corps have a pressure system to prevent salaries from increasing (or allow even reduction), giving more private profit.

    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by c0lo on Saturday October 21 2017, @10:03PM

      by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Saturday October 21 2017, @10:03PM (#585792) Journal

      Meanwhile, the 3D printing filament costs an arm and a leg (nylon goes > $30/kg) if you don't buy it from chinese market.

      --
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0 https://soylentnews.org/~MichaelDavidCrawford
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 23 2017, @04:17PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 23 2017, @04:17PM (#586390)

    https://preciousplastic.com/ [preciousplastic.com]

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