China no longer wants Western garbage
The European Union (EU) has announced its first-ever Europe-wide strategy on plastics recycling. It followed China’s ban on imports of waste from Western countries.
All plastic packaging in the European market will be recyclable by 2030, said the EU Commission in a press release. The consumption of single-use plastics will be reduced and the intentional use of microplastics will be restricted, it added.
Bottles, bags or cups: single-use plastics represent half of the items found on EU beaches but can take 500 years to breakdown into smaller pieces. Later this year, we will come forward with a proposal on single-use plastics #PlasticsStrategypic.twitter.com/7WtxiYy3i0— European Commission (@EU_Commission) January 16, 2018
An additional fund of €100 million ($122.4 million) has been committed to finance efficient recycling technology, and to boost innovation in plastic recycling.
Global production of plastics has increased twentyfold since the 1960s, according to the EU. It estimated that every year Europeans generate 25 million tons of plastic waste, of which less than 30 percent is collected for recycling.
“If we don't change the way we produce and use plastics, there will be more plastics than fish in our oceans by 2050. We must stop plastics getting into our water, our food, and even our bodies,” said EU Commission First Vice President Frans Timmermans.
Last month Beijing banned the import of 24 types of waste from Western countries, saying the US and EU countries have flouted waste standard rules.
Notifying the World Trade Organization about its waste import ban, Chinese authorities said “that large amounts of dirty wastes or even hazardous wastes are mixed in the solid waste that can be used as raw materials. This polluted China's environment seriously.”
In 2017, Chinese manufacturers imported a whopping 7.3 million metric tons of waste metal, plastics, and paper worth $18 billion mostly from developed countries, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The UK exported over 2.7 million tons of plastic waste to the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong-based recyclers in the last five years. Data showed that over one million ton of plastics worth $495 million have been exported to China by the US last year. The EU countries alone shipped 87 percent of the recycled plastic to China.
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