Aug 19, 2019 | Updated: 03:06 PM EDT

Western Plastic: To Spurn or To Burn?

Jun 10, 2019 09:50 AM EDT

(Photo : Rita E)

PARIS, France -- Western countries, despite huge campaigns in an effort to reduce plastic wastes continue to produce more. It looks like they might need to think of other means to dispose such plastic waste because China and other Asian countries have closed their doors on these garbage. The countries that used to take on their trash for their recycling industry have closed their doors.

China used to have landfills and incinerators to help them manage the trash. These were two quick fixes that were closed down in 2018. However, specialists say that governments all over the world should consider long-term solutions that will involve better recycling methods. For one, the world could start by producing less trash. So far, the recycling industry is trying to deal with the problem of trash because the other smaller Asian countries have also given up trying to replace China on its effort to save the environment.

"The problem is not the presence of trash, but it is in the quantities that they come in," said Arnaud Brunet, the head of the Bureau of International Recycling (BIR). "countries that serve as potential substitutes to China has been overwhelmed."

Sadly, the same Asian countries have become dumping grounds of illegally important products, particularly of materials that are either hard to recycle or not recyclable at all," Brunet said.

"Some countries in the world will continually suffer as they become the dumping ground of all the rubbish and they will take in only because it comes with an exchange in payment. However, the adverse effects of such acceptance includes environmental and social problems," said Vincent Aurez. He is an economy specialist from the EY Consulting Group.

Most European countries have their recycling programs in place. They deal with transparent bottles that are made from high-grade polyethylene terephthalate otherwise known as PET, but plastics that are made from either poor quality materials or those considered of no value are shipped abroad. This is according to the report recently released by a non-government organization called the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA).

Malaysia has authorized the importation of plastics as long as it's homogenous and clean, but it has warned that it will ship back all the other types that do not meet this qualification. Thailand has also restricted their plastic imports, that's why they have been redirected to countries such as Turkey and Indonesia where lighter sentences are often given to those who neglect to follow the rules.

Proper disposal of waste has always been a problem around the world, particularly in countries where a supposed recycling program is in place. What will remain of the world after ten years if people continue to use plastic as if they could recycle all of them?

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