The world’s most populous country and second-largest economy no longer wants to be the world’s garbage can. But that doesn’t mean China is out of the trash business.
For decades, Chinese manufacturers fueled their explosive growth with trash. In 2015, Chinese companies spent around $24 billion (€20.5 billion/CHF23.7 billion) on importing garbage, collecting around 57 percent of world’s plastic trash, 51 percent of used paper, 31 percent of nonferrous metal scrap and 28 percent of disused electronics, according to Globe Trade Magazine. But in January Chinese officials ordered a stop to importing certain kinds of paper and plastic waste that contributes to environmental pollution. They are expected to close their market almost entirely to foreign recyclables by 2020.
“There is no single and frankly, probably not even a group of countries, that can take in the volume that China used to take,” said Adina Renee Adler of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries in Washington, DC, speaking to Phys.org.
Leaders in Beijing appear to believe Chinese trash will be enough for their factories. Chinese officials have enacted new rules requiring citizens to pay for trash collection and mandating recycling among businesses and local governments, reported Bloomberg.
Local businesses are jumping at the resulting opportunities. Chinese recyclers signed around $14.6 billion (€14.43 billion/CHF12.48 billion) worth of contracts in the first six months of the year to prepare for the new business, reported Bloomberg, citing environment-consulting firm Huanjing Sinan.
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