Simply diverting our waste exports since China banned most of them is not the solution to the world’s “recycling” issues. Countries who are now accepting waste from richer countries such as the UK are not necessarily monitored or even have suitable legislation in place to ensure that the product is dealt with safely, either for the human race or for the planet.
Much of the plastic waste is being dumped or burned due to countries being overwhelmed with the quantity they are receiving.
China recognised that it couldn’t properly monitor the imports which were including more unsuitable and in some cases dangerous waste which couldn’t be detected at the point of import due to the excessive amounts that were coming in.
An unknown quantity of waste is ending up in rivers and oceans as a result of the lack of sufficient legislation in recipient countries.
The UK recently banned plastic straws – does anyone think this will solve the issue, really? The amount of plastic waste is an issue but not one that will go away overnight. Instead we need to be considering solutions to process the waste we are creating without risking it being done incorrectly by other less scrupulous countries.
Investment is needed in infrastructure to process the waste at source – not just the UK but all major plastic waste producing countries instead of paying to export and forget – it is already coming back to bite us – we just haven’t accepted the fact yet.
The world is showing signs of neglect in many ways due to our desire to avoid high costs for dealing with our own waste – it is a cost we will realise we have to pay – but when?
We will realise that processing waste as well as cutting down consumption of plastics is a necessary process and we should be developing processes and facilities now to better cope with the issues.
We need solutions closer to home and we need them now!