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Tipping Point - Recycling in China

A Further Look Into China's Waste Situation

Sutherland ShireIn an upcoming episode of foreign correspondent, Bill Birtles visits China and takes a look at what is happening there in regards to waste and recycling. A lot is uncovered in the program, and hopefully it will make people in Australia and around the world more conscientious about their wasteful habits.

Why did China ban recycling imports?

They didn't actually ban it, they just made their contamination standards so high that it is no longer viable (almost impossible) to send the material they would take. It has been suggested that the reason China have restricted waste imports in this way is so that they're forced to tackle their own garbage problems. Many Chinese cities are surrounded by piles of trash, which is more contaminated than what they would import. Not having foreign cleaner imports will force them to find ways to use and recycle the ridiculously large amounts of waste they already have.

China: One of the Largest Ocean Polluters

It is estimated that China produces over a third of the world's plastic waste, and a lot of the plastic and pollution found in the ocean is from China. As China has continued to develop and more and more residents come out of poverty, waste production has increased to even more unsustainable levels. Fortunately, there have been slow imporovements and some companies are taking action. One company has installed over 5,000 bottle recycling vending machines where users can immediately collect around 5 cents for a used bottle. In 2017 the company recycled over 50 million bottles. This is just one of the examples of how China's waste problems are being fought, but it's such a huge problem that much more than this needs to be done.

The Problem of Change

For most people, hearing that the government wants to clean up and reduce their amount of waste, is a good thing. However, there are currently around 170,000 people living in poverty who survive by picking through these waste piles. Where all rubbish would have previously gone to these rubbish dumps, bottle recycling facilities means 'pickers' will miss out on a lot of the more valuable waste products and may not be able to make enough to survive. All will be revealed in the upcoming episode of Foreign Correspondent 'Tipping Point', so stay tuned, and we'll try add more useful information here once the show has gone to air.

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