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My op-ed in the Baltimore Sun: “Forget the Trade War, China Won’t Take Our Plastics Anymore”

Plastic waste mountain

From “Forget the Trade War, China Won’t Take Our Plastics Anymore,” By Colleen Ebacher

Baltimore Sun, July 10, 2018

While speculation about the trade war with China reaches a fevered pitch, its most glaring consequence concerns an export that ended months ago, before the trade war even started: mountains of our discarded plastic bottles, old newspapers and other waste.

For years, China has been the planet’s premier dumping ground for recyclable plastics and scrap paper, processing 106 million tons of plastic waste from the United States and other industrialized countries since 1992. The millions of tons of scrap paper and plastic waste the U.S. sent to China every year makes it oursixth largest export to that country.

That ended in January, when China decided that it would no longer act as the “world’s garbage dump.” Now, across the nation, the plastic waste we dutifully deposit in recycling bins is piling up in ports or being sent to incinerators and landfills, including in Baltimore County, where about a third of our recycling gets dumped as trash instead. Eventually plastic trash makes its way into the environment, where it can linger indefinitely.

With the export of our plastic waste to China off the table, it is time to get serious about reducing the volume of waste we produce. And the good news is we don’t have to wait for our political leaders in Washington D.C. or Annapolis to take action: There’s a lot we can do to right now at the local level.

For more, check out the rest of the op-ed in the July 10, 2018 Baltimore Sun.

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