In an attempt to clean up its economy and environment, China enacted a new policy call the "Green Fence" cracking down on imports of recyclables, refusing to accept shipments if they consider them too "dirty" to meet their standards.
NPR interviewed Susan Collins, president of the Container Recycling Institute, on the impact. Collins says China’s Green Fence quickly began pushing big changes in the business. "This has sort of raised the bar for everybody, and has said to everybody: slow everything down a little bit, so you get everything sorted properly, produce higher quality materials."
One recycler Leon Farahnik, CEO of CarbonLITE in Riverside, operates a plastic bottle reprocessing plant that processes about 2 billion bottles a year. Still, the factory has been running under capacity. Farahnik is excited about China’s Green Fence though: A lot of those bales of plastic that used to get shipped to China are now coming to recyclers like him. In this case, better standards from China mean better practices, as well as more jobs here in the US.
Beyond the business benefits for American recyclers, Farahnik also emphasizes that recycling more bottles here in the US translates into greater savings in energy and greenhouse gas pollution.
"I use 1/8th the energy of virgin material [for bottles]," says Farahnik. "And I save 60,000 tons [of carbon dioxide emissions] just in this factory alone. That’s like 40,000 trips between Los Angles and New York on an airplane."
In order to increase green jobs, reduce Greenhouse Gases and our dependence on overseas end-use markets, we must continue to invest in the recycling economy and make it more profitable to use recycled materials than virgin resources in our products. Check out what CAW is working on this year to support recycling and green jobs.
To listen to the Podcast, click here.
Photo Credit: CarbonLITE