18.08.13 Plastic

August 13, 2018
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Paper straws, biodegradable utensils, and bag bans…

The new rush away from plastic as China says it no longer wants to be the “world’s garbage dump.”

Why It matters

For 27 years, China has bought 45% of the world’s plastic trash, but now it says no more.

On January 1, 2018, China banned all but the most pristine plastic.

America sent nearly 4K shipping containers full of plastic recyclables to China every day.

Where Will It Go?

Now What?

  • U.S. recyclers are trying to find a substitute for the Chinese market.
  • As demand grows, some other countries have accepted more plastic exports – at a price.
  • Even still, America’s total scrap plastic exports are down about 40% vs. last year.
  • Bottom line: China’s move has made recycling plastics less economical.

Scientists are working to create a durable plastic material that self-destructs on command. While it still doesn't make economic sense to use for plastic bottles or grocery bags, scientists have targeted polyurethane foams in mattresses and car seats. Read more here.

by Jenna Lee,