For close to three decades, since 1988, China imported 170.5 million tons of old plastic bags, bottles, wrappers and containers worth $ 80.9 billion. For most of the developed world, send the plastic waste to China was all they had to so to get rid of it. So when China announced in 2017 that it would no longer be buying the world’s junk, so came upon the challenge for West countries to get rid of it.
In 2017 alone, factories have churned out a cumulative 8.3 billion metric tons of new plastic. And by 2030, an estimated 111 million metric tons of used plastic will need to be buried or recycled or not manufactured at all, according to an analysis of UN global trade data by University of Georgia researchers.
Only 9 per cent of the total plastic ever generated has been recycled, and China played a major role in this. In 2016, China took in over half the annual total plastic waste amounting to 7.4 million metric tons. Other countries are stepping in, India, Vietnam and Malaysia, have taken in more plastic, but it is no match to China’s capacity.
Share of Plastic waste imported by major countries
Majority import being by China