Lately, the message China has been sending to the world is that "We don't want your rubbish."
China has increasingly cracked down on import of contaminated recyclables, first with new policies and now enforcement action. Resource Recycling has recently reported China rejected 17 containers holding 420 tons of plastic from the UK this year because of the level of contamination and low-grade of the plastic. Seventy percent of plastics recovered for recycling in the U.K. are sent to Asia annually, according to the UK Telegraph. If this trend continues, it will leave the U.K. with a "mountain of plastic."
While the UK will be scrambling to improve Britain's recycling infrastructure, California has lead the way in building an in-state infrastructure to wash, process and remanufacture plastics. Within the last 5 years, exports to China has decreased from 96% to a 50% export rate. At the same, investment in California plastic processing infrastructure helps support more than 700 green jobs.
California must continue to invest in greater plastic processing as a means of sustaining recycling long term, reducing greenhouse gas pollution, protecting green jobs and reducing dependence on China end-use markets.