How China's 'Greenwall' Threatens Your City's Recycling Efforts

The United States' municipal recycling programs rely on China's voracious appetite for plastic trash. But the country's new ban on the import of certain types of solid waste may cause your city a giant, stinky headache.

"As Americans carefully separate the paper and plastics from their trash, most probably don’t realize that their country doesn’t recycle stuff so much as export it to be recycled elsewhere. Specifically, to China. For more than five years, scrap and trash has consistently been the US’s biggest export (paywall), for which China is the number one customer, and the market has doubled in size since 2006," explains Gwynn Guilford.

"But hints are emerging that American cities and the companies that sell trash are in for a rude awakening. A recent sign of this comes from Oregon, where truckloads of plastic are piling up at recycling depots because Chinese buyers cancelled their orders, as Oregon Public Broadcasting reports."

"And it’s not just plastic from Oregon. American waste recycling companies are starting to panic. 'What I’m hearing from folks in the industry, it’s that just that nothing is going,' the industry insider says. '[China's] not taking anything anymore. It’s a greenwall.'”


Full Story: China doesn’t want your trash anymore—and that could spell big trouble for American cities

Comments

Prepare for the AICP Exam

Join the thousands of students who have utilized the Planetizen AICP* Exam Preparation Class to prepare for the American Planning Association's AICP* exam.
Starting at $199
Planetizen Courses image ad

Planetizen Courses

Advance your career with subscription-based online courses tailored to the urban planning professional.
Starting at $14.95 a month

Stay thirsty, urbanists

These sturdy water bottles are eco-friendly and perfect for urbanists on the go.
$19.00
Red necktie with map of Boston

Tie one on to celebrate your city

Choose from over 20 styles of neckties imprinted with detailed city or transit maps.
$44.95