China Doesn’t Want Your Trash

For years, China processed more than half of the world’s plastic recycling. Then, in 2018, it stopped. Things have gotten messy since then.

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Host
  • Gabrielle Sierra
    Director, Podcasting
Credits

Asher Ross - Supervising Producer

Markus Zakaria - Audio Producer and Sound Designer

Rafaela Siewert - Associate Podcast Producer

Episode Guests
  • Elizabeth C. Economy
    Senior Fellow for China Studies
  • Kate O'Neill
    Associate Professor, Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, UC Berkeley

Show Notes

For years, industrialized nations across the world shipped enormous quantities of recyclable material to China. Then, in 2018, China banned most waste imports. The reversal sent shock waves through the global recycling system, and forced many towns and cities to start burning and dumping material that they used to recycle. The story of China’s National Sword policy shows how one decision by one powerful country can affect individual lives in dozens of nations around the world.

 

From CFR

 

China’s Environmental Challenge: Political, Social and Economic Implications,” Elizabeth C. Economy

 

Read More

 

Is This the End of Recycling?,” Atlantic

 

Hundreds of US cities are killing or scaling back their recycling programs,” Vox

 

‘Moment of reckoning’: US cities burn recyclables after China bans imports,” Guardian

 

What Happens to the Plastic We Throw Out,” National Geographic

 

Watch and Listen

 

China’s Waste Ban Is Causing A Trash Crisis In The U.S.,” Vice News Tonight

 

Where Will Your Plastic Trash Go Now That China Doesn’t Want It?,” NPR

 

American cities confront a ‘slow-moving recycling crisis’,” CBS News

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