In an new study published in the journal of Science Advances, it was discovered that an estimated 111 million tons of plastic waste will be displaced by 2030 as a result of China’s recent ban on the import of most plastic waste.
The United States and other industrialized countries that have been exporting their plastic to China for recycling will be feeling the change the most as they will need to find another way to dispose of the products.
The unsettling part, plastic has already started to piled up in landfills with recycling programs not able to meet the demand. “Bold global ideas and actions for reducing quantities of nonrecyclable materials, redesigning products, and funding domestic plastic waste management are needed,” the authors of the study wrote.
Since 1992, 45% of the world’s plastic waste has been sent to China for recycling. The United States alone, shipped nearly 4,000 shipping containers full of plastic recyclables a day to Chinese recycling plants.
China changed their policies when they began to enforce its ‘National Sword’ policy, which bans 24 types of solid waste as the country aims to be more aggressive in fighting pollution in their country.
In a statement, study co-author Jenna Jambeck said, “Some of it could be diverted to other countries, but most of them lack the infrastructure to manage their own waste let alone the waste produced by the rest of the world.”
Currently there are three likely option for where the plastic may go. The first is stockpiling it in warehouses with other recycled material, second is buried in landfills and third option is in the environment, including the ocean.
When already realizing the enormous problem we have of plastic in the ocean, this is extremely frightening. At the current pace, plastic in the ocean is expected to outweigh fish by 2050 and that will only increase exponentially if there is not a plan put in place.
The best bet, stop using plastics. More countries around the World have started to ban plastics in some form but not enough is being done. You can make an immediate impact by choosing items that are not made out of plastic and re-use it if you have no other choice but purchasing plastic.