The impact of the COVID pandemic is so severe that it's starting to threaten the economics of the entire Asian recycling sector, with countrywide lockdowns devastating many of the small-scale businesses that normally collect and sort the waste that supplies recyclers. Crashing oil prices could also see a glut of cheap virgin plastic flooding the market and reducing the competitiveness of recycled material. Another unforeseen consequence of the coronavirus outbreak is that it has diverted attention from plastic pollution, which could take some of the impetus out of the global campaign against waste. We came here because of consumer outrage. Will that outrage still exist in six to 12 months? The waste management problems caused by the pandemic are particularly evident in India, where an estimated 2 million informal workers collect and sort recyclable material and then sell it up the value chain to aggregators and processors.
The World's Recycling Is in Chaos. Here's What Has to Happen | WIRED
Record-low Covid-era oil prices have made virgin plastic much cheaper than recycled plastic, forcing many recycling plants around the world to close. The only way to save the recycling industry is for brand owners to pay for the cost of recycling. Circulate Capital chief executive Rob Kaplan said that when Covid developed into a global crisis, the company questioned the timing of the investments—which are the first it has made. Their answer was resoundingly yes, we have to keep going, because we are going to need these companies to be successful to meet our demand [for recycled plastic]. That outrage is only going to get louder. This, Wong said, will also come through regulation to push companies to use more recycled content through Extended Producer Responsbility EPR schemes, which force companies to take more responsiblity for the materials they produce by helping to collect, process and recycle it.
America's grungy 'recycled' plastic is creating wastelands in Asia
This story was originally published by Yale Environment and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration. The move was an effort to halt a deluge of soiled and contaminated materials that was overwhelming Chinese processing facilities and leaving the country with yet another environmental problem—and this one not of its own making. Recycled aluminum and glass are less affected by the ban. Globally, more plastics are now ending up in landfills, incinerators, or likely littering the environment as rising costs to haul away recyclable materials increasingly render the practice unprofitable.
Skip to content. Follow the stench and you will find them: flaming heaps of dirty plastic, gushing black smoke, bringing death to a place otherwise teeming with life. This is a mostly lush place, studded with fat palms and forest canopies dripping with vines.