What do you do when the place you’ve been dumping all your garbage won’t let you do that anymore? If you’re the United Kingdom you strongly consider burning it. To upgrade its industries China is banning “foreign garbage” from January 2018 on. The UK’s recycling industry used to send “55% of paper, 25% plus of plastics” to China yearly.
Britain was shipping “up to 500,000 tons of plastic for recycling in China every year”. I can’t imagine how, but their Environment Secretary admits he didn’t see this problem coming. Some of the new plans include:
- Getting other Asian nations to take some of the plastic but they won’t take it all.
- Using incinerators to burn the plastic. Environmental groups are already denouncing this plan. Greenpeace has said incineration is “a high-carbon non-renewable form of generating electricity. It also creates toxic chemicals and heavy metals”. Also parts of the country don’t have incinerators.
- Using landfills. It’s an old standby of fans of the status quo who lack imagination and courage.
None of those solutions address the actual problem. Industrialized societies are swimming in single-use plastics. That is what needs to be banned to fix the root of the problem. Anything else is just a band-aid and some band aids actually cause more problems.