- Because of the recession, we are all buying fewer things.
- As demand falls, Chinese factories are therefore making fewer things for export.
- Which means they are buying in less plastic.
- Plastics suppliers have stopped buying waste plastic to recycle and sell on.
- Our recycling has nowhere to go.
This intriguing article shows the long chain of consumerism in our globalized world.
Over a third of our plastic and paper in the UK is shipped to China for recycling, partly to capitalise on China’s cheap labour. Sorting waste is hazardous and time consuming, and health and safety laws in the UK make it expensive. We also lack the capacity to recycle, and rather than miss targets on recycling and landfill reduction, it’s easier to export waste and not worry about it.
If China is no longer buying our waste to sell back to us as new products, what are we going to do with it?