Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

World's Plastic Waste Problem Now Predicted to Reach 111 Million Metric Tonnes by 2030

Popular
pxhere

Mountains of plastic waste are building up around the globe after China implemented a ban on other countries' trash.

By 2030, an estimated 111 million metric tons of single-use drink bottles, food containers and other plastic junk will be displaced because of China's new policy, according to a new paper from University of Georgia researchers, who cited UN global trade data for their study.


Before the ban, China reigned as the world's largest importer of plastic leftovers. The paper, published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances, said that China has imported 106 million metric tons of plastic waste for recycling since 1992, making up 45.1 percent of all cumulative imports.

But last year, China announced it no longer wanted to take in other countries' trash, so it could focus on its own pollution problems.

The unexpected policy shift has left exporters in the U.S., Canada, Ireland, Germany and other European countries scrambling for solutions for their trash. The U.S. alone had sent 13.2 million tons scrap paper and 1.42 million tons of scrap plastics to China's recycling centers annually.

Western states, which heavily relied on Chinese recycling plants, have seen bales of mixed plastics and paper building up in recycling centers, the New York Times reported last month. In some cities, the pile-up has even resulted in recyclables being directly sent to landfills.

Some of this waste is now being sent to Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand, but experts have said that these countries might not be able to fill the void left by China, CNBC News reported.

Amy Brooks, the first author on the current study and a doctoral student in engineering at the University of Georgia, suggested that countries need to be better at managing and recycling their own waste.

"This is a wake-up call. Historically, we've been depending on China to take in this recycled waste and now they are saying no," she told the Associated Press. "That waste has to be managed, and we have to manage it properly."

More than 8.3 billion metric tons of new plastics have been generated, distributed and discarded as of 2017. Much of that material ends up in our oceans. Every year humans send an estimated 8 million metric tons of plastic out to sea. If plastic consumption continues at this rate, we are on pace to fill oceans with more plastic than there are fish by 2050.

As the researchers of the paper concluded, "Bold global ideas and actions for reducing quantities of nonrecyclable materials, redesigning products, and funding domestic plastic waste management are needed."

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Oregano oil is an extract that is not as strong as the essential oil, but appears to be useful both when consumed or applied to the skin. Peakpx / CC by 1.0

By Alexandra Rowles

Oregano is a fragrant herb that's best known as an ingredient in Italian food.

However, it can also be concentrated into an essential oil that's loaded with antioxidants and powerful compounds that have proven health benefits.

Read More Show Less
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro meets Ronaldo Caiado, governor of the state of Goiás on June 5, 2020. Palácio do Planalto / CC BY 2.0

Far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who has presided over the world's second worst coronavirus outbreak after the U.S., said Tuesday that he had tested positive for the virus.

Read More Show Less
Although natural gas produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants than coal or oil, it is a major contributor to climate change, an urgent global problem. Skitterphoto / PIxabay

By Emily Grubert

Natural gas is a versatile fossil fuel that accounts for about a third of U.S. energy use. Although it produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants than coal or oil, natural gas is a major contributor to climate change, an urgent global problem. Reducing emissions from the natural gas system is especially challenging because natural gas is used roughly equally for electricity, heating, and industrial applications.

Read More Show Less
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved two Lysol products as the first to effectively kill the novel coronavirus on surfaces, based on laboratory testing. Paul Hennessy / NurPhoto via Getty Images

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently issued a list of 431 products that are effective at killing viruses when they are on surfaces. Now, a good year for Lysol manufacturer Reckitt Benckiser just got better when the EPA said that two Lysol products are among the products that can kill the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Read More Show Less
U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez unveils the Green New Deal resolution in front of the U.S. Capitol on February 7, 2019 in Washington, DC. Alex Wong / Getty Images

By Judith Lewis Mernit

For all its posturing on climate change, the Democratic Party has long been weak on the actual policies we need to save us from extinction. President Barack Obama promised his presidency would mark "the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow," and then embraced natural gas, a major driver of global temperature rise, as a "bridge fuel." Climate legislation passed in the House in 2009 would have allowed industries to buy credits to pollute, a practice known to concentrate toxic air in black and brown neighborhoods while doing little to cut emissions.

Read More Show Less
About 30,000 claims contending that Roundup caused non-Hodgkin's lymphoma are currently unsettled. Mike Mozart / CC BY 2.0

Bayer's $10 billion settlement to put an end to roughly 125,000 lawsuits against its popular weed killer Roundup, which contains glyphosate, hit a snag this week when a federal judge in San Francisco expressed skepticism over what rights future plaintiffs would have, as the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Hundreds of sudden elephant deaths in Botswana aren't just a loss for the ecosystem and global conservation efforts. Mario Micklisch / Flickr / CC by 2.0

By Charli Shield

When an elephant dies in the wild, it's not uncommon to later find its bones scattered throughout the surrounding landscape.

Read More Show Less