This suddenly puts big waste producers into a funk, like US, UK
That ban is already driving up the prices of paper products. A paper mill manager in southern China told Reuters in September that the price of finished paper had doubled as a result, from 3,000 yuan (US $453) per ton to 6,000 yuan ($906) per ton.
But while government officials worldwide consider how to move forward after China’s plastic waste import ban, the main focus has to be on the environment. This ban may undo the decades-long effort to build a plastics recycling industry, and lead to even more plastics being produced; IndustryWeek reports that China has already begun investing in brand new plastic to replace what they’re no longer recycling, to the delight of US chemical companies.
China has begun buying brand new plastic to replace all the recycled scrap — and that’s great news for U.S. chemical makers such as DowDuPont Inc., which are rushing to find markets for millions of tons of new production amid an industry investment binge. U.S. exports of one common plastic are expected to quintuple by 2020.
The U.S. West Coast appears to be hardest hit. In the area around Portland, Oreg., for instance, some recyclers are limiting the types of plastics they will accept. Waste haulers in rural parts of the state recently began steering some plastic to the trash dump because the market is drying up, said Peter Spendelow, a recycling policy analyst for the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.
California already bans 1-use plastic bags:
Based on the outcomes in Alameda County and Ireland, a law with a small penalty (10 cents per paper bag) can dramatically increase environmentally friendly decisions. California’s statewide plastic bag ban is therefore likely to have a positive environmental impact, even though single-use paper bags have a higher global warming potential than plastic ones. Rather than continuing to consume 15 billion single-use plastic bags per year, Californians are expected to shift to reusable bags, decreasing environmental toxicity and their carbon footprint. However, because bags are not a major source of litter, the law will have only a minimal effect on reducing trash in waterways.
Until Prop 67 was approved, the plastic bags industry sold about 15 billion single-use plastic bags to California consumers, draining about 2 million barrels of oil in the process.
Prior to the ban, the state went to great lengths to convince residents to recycle the bags, but the effort resulted in consistent failure. Californians only recycled 3 percent of them, leaving billions to scatter across our beaches, rivers, roads and neighborhoods. Plastic accounts for 60 percent to 80 percent of all marine debris and harms and kills wildlife in devastating numbers.
From a Chinese documentary maker’s view:
China is currently the world’s largest importer of trash. According to statistics from the Bureau of International Recycling, the country imported 7.3 million metric tons (8 tons) of plastic waste in 2016 mainly from Europe, Japan and the United States, worth billions of dollars.
Here is a Taiwan Plastic bag recycling machinery maker: