Ripple Effects of China’s Recycling Policy

Ripple Effects of China’s Recycling Policy

December 9, 2018

Trash piles up around the world as China’s 2018 “National Sword” policy cuts off global recycling at the knees.

It used to be that ships bringing Chinese goods to the U.S. returned home full of our recyclables, feeding a lucrative industry in China.  However, corruption, abuses, and environmental pollution in China led the government there to put the brakes on this industry beginning this year.

Whereas China and Hong Kong bought 60 percent of the G7’s plastic waste in the first half of 2017, that figure decreased to 10 percent in the first half of 2018. Bales of plastic that U.S. recyclers used to sell for $20 per ton now cost cities $10 per ton for disposal.

While China will still accept some cardboard, plastic, glass, and scrap metal, it can only have an impurity level of 0.5 percent, a standard most U.S. recyclers cannot achieve. Recyclers, governments, and consumers around the world are being forced to rethink their use of plastics, paper waste, and e-waste.


Video Spotlight: China Trash Ban Creates Crisis for US Recyclers


This post is based on the Australian Financial Review article, The $280b crisis sparked by China calling time on taking in “foreign Continue reading

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Reusable Packaging To Reduce Waste

Reusable Packaging To Reduce Waste

With the growth of online ordering from companies such as Amazon, the amount of packaging waste has increased substantially.

Limeloop, a reusable packaging company, has estimated that approximately 165 billion packages are shipped each year in the United States.  This has placed a tremendous strain on waste management and recycling.  Not to mention the amount of materials used to produce the packaging.  For example, this translates to requiring approximately 1 billion trees to produce the cardboard for the packaging.

Limeloop has developed a a durable, lightweight, waterproof pouch that can be returned by the customer, and re-used for shipping as many as 2,000 times.  Limeloop’s initial market is the apparel industry.  But, the plan is to expand to larger packages in other industries.

This post is based on the Fast Company article, Can Online Retail Solve Its Packaging Problem?, by Adele Peters, April 20, 2018. Image source: Ralph125/Getty Images.

Discussion Questions:

1. What are the benefits to reusable packaging?

Guidance: The obvious benefit is the reduction in waste that must be recycled or sent to the land fill, but consider other benefits which could accrue in the supply chain, including for logistics Continue reading

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