China Now Turning Away US ... Trash
This is really bad news for recycling efforts in US cities
By John Johnson, Newser Staff
Posted May 10, 2013 11:37 AM CDT
In this 2009 photo, a man prepares to dump plastic bottles at a recycling center in Beijing.   (AP Photo/Greg Baker)

(Newser) – If your local recycler starts turning away your cans and bottles in the near future, blame China. Beijing has stopped accepting certain shipments of recycled plastic from the US, reports Quartz. (It reportedly will no longer welcome unwashed plastics and improperly sorted shipments; other reports say items like coffee cup lids and PVC pipes are on the no-no list.) This, it turns out, is a huge deal because trash has for years been one of the top American exports to China, explains the Washington Post. If China won't buy it anymore, US cities and recycling companies will be scrambling for alternatives.

In fact, that's already happening, reports Oregon Public Broadcasting, which talks to one company that has 50 trucks' worth of plastic sitting around thanks to canceled China orders. One sliver of hope is that China genuinely needs this stuff for its manufacturing industry, so it's possible that business interests will pressure the government into relaxing the new "Operation Green Fence" initiative. Failing that, the US will either need to start recycling more of its own trash or find new buyers. Might we suggest Oslo?

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Showing 3 of 18 comments
HMD-SMD-ITY
May 12, 2013 12:51 AM CDT
We have at least 5 large trash piles in the city and only one of them generates electricity like you see in Los Angeles. The other four have large flares burning off the methane that the hills generate. Its a tremendous waste but its not their fault. The one trash pile was being used to supplement a GM assembly plant. The electric utility didn't want Waste Management to install any new generators on site because they did not want to buy any more surplus electricity due to having to buy wind energy already and they had turned down their own generating capacity. So when GM closed down the plant, it was likely that the pile with the generator was going to install a flare. But then came our Air Force base that backed up to the plant. They had the county buy the factory from GM and then lease it to the Air Force. It was the "green" thing to do to once again take power from the big pile of trash which should be able to supply electricity a minimum of 40 years as the trash breaks down.
PJ1000
May 11, 2013 10:02 AM CDT
And yet the third alternative is never mentioned - deliver the materials in a cleaner condition.
Lea
May 11, 2013 8:20 AM CDT
I live in the suburbs of cook county in IL. I no longer wash out my recyclables. Our water bills are so high that I can not afford to waste water. It is liquid gold in River Grove. Thanks to our money hungry gov.