And though China has now stopped accepting the West's waste it still house mountains to deal with plus the problem has just shifted to Southeast Asia instead
I understand you can't put the blame on a people as a whole and there are bad actors there, but a sovereign country needs to take responsibility.
It is not fair to allow some countries to make decisions based on economics but expect others to be ecologically responsible. Let's see how the US handles its own trash now, since China has stopped importing it.
Well, there was a New York Times article a few weeks ago about how the cardboard that used to be shipped to China for recycling is now being recycled domestically into Amazon boxes, and paper mills in Wisconsin are reopening, being retrofitted to handle recycled cardboard, and bringing workers back to run them.
Serious question. I mean people are acting like the fact that the Chinese government is stamping out the business of exporting trash is a crisis. Is it possible we can just dump it in a landfill?
If so, why not just do that?
If not, ok, then I understand why everyone is up in arms.
In honesty, burying undigestible plastics seems like a great way for carbon sequestration.
That's just it though, isn't it? They don't, really.
My understanding of the "crisis" is that all those well-intentioned recyclers were duly sorting their plastics, which was then picked up by their municipality for "recycling" and then shipped straight to a developing country where it was just dropped on the ground. And everyone felt good about themselves, and nothing was done.
Had recycling not been turned into an "out of sight, out of mind" problem, this whole thing could have been averted and some kind of actual clean disposal or reduction implemented.
I'm not claiming you're caricaturing the argument, to be clear--I'm just curious if there's another angle to consider.
Because some countries take a lot less money to - supposedly and according to their word - do that job cleanly for us.
We know that in fact they are probably lying, but it is quite difficult to do business like that. If we refused to make business with those countries on that basis, we would be accused of discrimination.
I mean, isn't the entire crisis that China does not take the trash anymore?
So if we have all this trash, why can't we just put it in a landfill?
At some point in the past, someone proposed that we send plastic overseas for recycling. Win win right?
If any one counter-proposed that it be buried they'd be considered a bad person.
Less single use plastic containers. In fact, less plastic containers period. More metal containers, more glass containers, and yes, you will have to reuse them. More recycled paper, etc etc etc.
Oh yeah, and our kids don't really need all these plastic toys we buy them. Maybe it wouldn't be a terrible thing for them to have to go outside and play like we did?
Just those two right there would probably make a small bu meaningful dent. Probably a lot of other places we could draw down as well.
 http://theconversation.com/the-world-of-plastics-in-numbers-..., https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/3/7/e1700782/tab-fig...
My assumptions are that packaging for consumer products ends up in the "packaging" bar and not the "consumer products" bar, and that plastic-based consumer textiles similarly end up under "textiles" and not "consumer products", and probably something similar happening with stuff hiding inside the "other" bar.
And yeah, I do think that we as consumers should take some responsibility. I would like to some regulatory action or excise taxes, sure. But, even without that, I can still at least try and put some demand-side pressure on things by, for example, preferentially choosing products that aren't in plastic packaging. Or even avoiding making a purchase altogether when it's not necessary to do so and my only options come in disposable plastic containers.
Sure, I played outside a lot as a kid, but I also had plenty of plastic toys, too.
(Note: born in the early 1970s)
China presents itself as a poor nation when it suits its purposes.
I've been to poor countries. Cuba is poor for instance. Or Guinea. China? Not so much.
GDP may as well be simply a measure of how much richer the rich are getting.
The sellers can't in all honestly claim they didn't know this would be the result.
edit: so what do you do when a contract is breached for years ? Find a solution or point the finger while closing your eyes on the issue because you know there is no other cost effective way to take care of the problem ?
But still, for me, the mere fact that the neighbor said I could throw it on his lawn means that the dog shit shouldn't be in the street. But that's just me, other people may see it different.
if your neighbor said you could throw it on his lawn?
Yes, it's your fault too. I don't think anyone is saying that it's not the fault of the West for example. But come on man? If you say I can dump my dog's shit on your lawn, then yeah, of course that's where I'm going to dump it.
2010 total plastic marine debris: 4,800k - 12,700k metric tons
2010 EU plastic marine debris: 50k-120k metric tons (Higher than the US by ~1k)
2010 EU plastic marine debris percentage: 1%
2016 EU export of nontoxic garbage to a country in top 10 plastic marine waste: 269,000 tonnes (a lot missing statistics so wide error bars here)
2015 percent of nontoxic garbage export that is plastic/mixed: ~9%
Probable amount of EU plastic that gets exported to top 10 country: 26.9k - 53.8k tonnes
Crude adjusted EU ranking if 100% of the doubled amount makes it into the ocean: ~10th
Incredibly crude adjusted EU plastic marine debris percentage: 2%
: https://www.iswa.org/fileadmin/user_upload/Calendar_2011_03_... (the footnote of table 1 specifically)
: http://appsso.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/nui/show.do (You'll have to screw with the customizations to get useful statistics)
I don't see how that makes it any better. Recycled waste certainly shouldn't be ending up in rivers.
We need to reduce our waste, but we should also handle our waste better. Dumping it in rivers is not acceptable.
Recycling is a pipe dream. In fact it means shipping tones of garbage to 3rd world country and let them do the grunt work. Out of sight out of mind.
Whatever the case, it shouldn't be dumped in rivers.
Why doesn't this happen ?
To give a black comedy example if you have a friend who is a real fan of Tony Soprano and you ask a look alike to hold a surprise party for you and he is a hitman with a front company instead of an impressionist who takes it as a euphemism to murder them their death - even if you were a negligent idiot is vastly different than you straight up hiring a hitman to kill them.
I don't think anyone would be doing the same if the Hudson River or the Port of Long Beach were the source of most of the plastic in the ocean.
China is also the world's #1 greenhouse gas emitter on a per GDP basis:
Sort by GDP per emissions and China is quite exceptional compared to other large economies and even among developing nations. China just clearly doesn't care at all about the environment, or if the leadership does care they're doing a really poor job of enforcing anything.
It's bizarre to me to hear Western liberals give a free pass to China with its massive and still growing CO2 emissions, internment camps for ethnic minorities, rivers of plastic, and dystopian total surveillance state. I suspect it comes from a knee jerk desire to take the opposite position from Trump and his supporters, but I personally find that to be kind of mindless. Pushing on China is one of the very very few things I agree with them about.
Emission per capita is much more fair.
China has come a long long way. Fertility is much lower. They are investing heavily in renewables.
And they rarely travel by car or airplane.
I agree that China is showing some signs of moving in a better direction environmentally, though they are still building coal plants. That's not my point. My point is that people seem to want to let them off the hook for where they are contributing to major global pollution problems and where they could (easily in this case!) do something about it. How hard would it be to clean up the Yangtze River for the world's second largest economy? It would be much easier than reducing CO2 emissions.
All currently rich countries have gone through this phase, so it's hard to judge them too harshly for this, and they are showing signs of transitioning to the cleanup phase.
In Shanghai, for instance, almost everything is delivered. Meals, products, groceries. Every single item is wrapped in layers and layers of disposable plastics. You buy a coconut, it’s wrapped in styrofoam, then wrapped in plastic. This all ends up in the ocean.
A billion plastic bags are thrown away every day in China. This has nothing to do with lack of development, and nothing to do with importing recyclables. It is lack of education, disregard for the environment, and poor government policy wrt recycling and waste reduction.
Is it really? Single-use plastic from western countries is mostly not the plastic found in oceans. So while they were busy implementing these measures, they do not even scratch the surface of the issue. Do the proponents of these ideas care about the environment at all?
Single use plastic is an eyesore. It's garbage that doesn't stay where it's supposed to.
I agree that supporting developing countries develop better waste management practices would be money well spent, like efforts to support their health systems. Poverty, weak governance and lack of prioritization, in that order, are probably the main impediments.
Projects focusing on the developing or third world will likely be regarded as colonialism, lecturing from a position of power etc, and perception has become more important than correctness or efficiency.
Do you really believe western nations don't use their power to compel poorer countries to act in a given way?
I believe it would be more economically expensive to help another nation recycle than to pass a law domestically and ban/fine for certain disposable goods, but as far as work-effort expended, I think you'd get more bang for your buck to work with those that produce the most plastic. Of course, international processes are always harder than domestic ones, and this isn't an exclusive-or style problem.
On the national politics level it's only almost that bad: we (the US) have very little way to influence what China does with their trash. It might take Trumpish levels of confrontationalism from a Democrat administration to have any impact at all. Sad that candidates aren't taking on this reality... it's much easier to sell a rosy narrative to voters that we can fix everything by making sacrifices at home ala the Green New Deal or somethimg similar.
The article doesn't really go into how or why the Yangtze, for instance, has so much plastic. The Yangtze is is 6,300 km long. It seems difficult to prevent people from dumping in it along it's entire length.
Are thinking of setting up a filter at the mouth? Processing 4000 tons of plastic a day, including microscopic beads, doesn't seem trivial to me.
Is your assumption that there's only a few major dumpers?
Iirc, most of the plastic isn't even from rivers. It's from the fishing industry, illegal trash dumping and the wear on car tires.
Hi Downvoters, please explain what is factually wrong about my comment. Thanks.
"A recent study estimates that more than a quarter of all that waste could be pouring in from just 10 rivers, eight of them in Asia."
10% from fishing industry
Not sure what you mean by illegal trash dumping. Trash that's dumped directly on the coast and not into a river first?
Trash that's illegally dumped off shore. It's harder to dump large amounts of trash in a river and not have somebody notice - it's easier to say you're transporting it and "lose" part/all of it while at sea.
85% comes from either rivers or shorelines.
A recent study estimates that more than a quarter of all that waste could be pouring in from just 10 rivers [...] The 10 rivers that carry 93 percent of that trash [...], so 10 rivers are said to contribute 25% of total trash and 93% of river-trash. That'd leave ~68% from the shore, which sounds very high.
https://ourworldindata.org/plastic-pollution#ocean-plastic-s... also has more input if you're interested.
From the article:
>A recent study estimates that more than a quarter of all that waste could be pouring in from just 10 rivers, eight of them in Asia.
>The 10 rivers that carry 93 percent of that trash are the Yangtze, Yellow, Hai, Pearl, Amur, Mekong, Indus and Ganges Delta in Asia, and the Niger and Nile in Africa.
So to say "10 Rivers Contribute Most of the Plastic in the Oceans" is not really correct, they contribute something like 25%.
There are cleaners in all public areas. What they collect must surely go to landfills.
Although I've seen some garbage dumps on the sides of lakes and rivers, I'm sure the authorities don't condone it. I also saw many signs saying "Water Source Protection Area" and fences keeping the public away.
Plastic sheeting is used extensively in agriculture, but surely they will dispose of used sheets properly...
I'm sure the authorities don't condone it
surely they will dispose of used sheets properly
But I think that, after many years of growth at any cost, China is cleaning up their act. It may be years before it results in cleaner water flowing into the sea.