China's decision to halt imports of most recyclables from the United States has caused turmoil. With few markets for their recyclables, Philadelphia is sending half of them to a waste-to-energy incinerator in Chester not designed to burn them.
The Democratic governor proposed a ban on single-use plastic bags in his state-of-the-state address on Jan. 15. Nearly two years earlier, he signed a bill that prevented New York City from charging for bags as the District of Columbia and Boston do.
Thanks to two recent New York State court rulings, disposable food and beverage containers will no longer be made from polystyrene in the nation's largest city. The ban was originally proposed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg in February 2013.
China has stopped purchasing the recyclables that millions of Americans place curbside on recycling days, upending the industry. Recyclables are already directed toward landfills as domestic markets are sought. Berkeley, Calif. may go a novel route.
When a watchdog group partnered with MIT to install trackers on a batch of e-waste, the results were sobering. Much of the haul left the country, ending up in Asian junkyards where unknowing workers are exposed to toxic substances.