National Geographic : 2019 Jun
1990 ‘95 2000 ‘05 ‘15 ‘17 ‘10 5 10 15 GLOBAL WASTE PLASTIC EXPORTS TO ALL NATIONS MillIons of metric tons 1990–2017 METRIC TONS GLOBAL WASTE PLASTIC EXPORTS TO ALL NATIONS January 2017—September 2018* 100,000 February 2017 581,000 metric tons February 2018 23,900 metric tons GLOBAL WASTE PLASTIC EXPORTS TO CHINA January 2018 September 2018 January 2017 July 2017 81 other countries exported plastic waste to China in 2017 Japan U.S. Germany Thailand Indonesia U.K. South Korea Belgium Mexico Hong Kong TOP 10, 2017 EMBARK | DATA SHEET AFTER IM PORTING NEARLY half of the planet’s plastic recyclables for three decades, China barred the import of most residential recyclables in 2017. The ban is part of its efforts to clean its envi- ronment and improve quality of life. Now other countries in Asia are increasing their plastic waste imports, raising environmen- tal concerns about their ability to handle such large volumes of recyclables. Meanwhile, in developed countries many domestic recycling programs have been halted because of the cost. PLASTIC WASTE CRACKDOWN BY SEAN MC NAUGHTON AND KELSEY NOWAKOWSKI SOURCES: UN COMTRADE; THAI CUSTOMS DEPARTMENT; HONG KONG CENSUS AND STATISTICS DEPARTMENT; KOREA CUSTOMS SERVICE; EUROSTAT; ADINA R. ADLER, INSTITUTE OF SCRAP RECYCLING INDUSTRIES; AMY BROOKS, JENNA JAMBECK, SHUNLI WANG, UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA *LATEST AVAILABLE DATA. INDONESIA’S 2018 EXPORT DATA WERE NOT AVAILABLE. In July 2017 China began stringently enforcing environ- mental laws, leading to an immediate decline in imported plastic even before the ban started. One reason for the drop in 2017: fewer markets for plastic waste Learn more about plastic waste and take the pledge to reduce it at natgeo.com/plasticpledge. The crackdown on plastic waste from residential collections began in 2018. The trickle that remained was from industrial imports. The number of countries exporting plastic waste to China fell from 90 in 2017 to just over 40 by September 2018. Thailand and Malaysia saw an uptick in imports after the ban.