The US exports its plastic waste. But now other countries are rejecting it

Originally published at: The US exports its plastic waste. But now other countries are rejecting it. | Boing Boing


At the same time as being unable to recycle plastics, it’s damn near impossible to avoid buying them too. Buying bulk amounts of foods leaves few options, and I don’t have time or funds to buy on a meal-by-meal basis. There is one dairy in the area that has glass milk jugs but Oberweis dairies are owned by a tool who won’t get my business.


the most easily recycled plastic, polyethylene terephthalate or p.e.t., was improved by andrew wyeth’s brother, nathaniel, so it could withstand the pressure of carbonated beverages. he was a guest speaker at an event sponsored by the chemistry department at my university. he was . . . optimistic in his predictions for the utility of the product. he talked about the easy recyclability of the product combined with its inherent strength would allow one to drink a soda from a bottle made out of it one day and then drive a car the body of which was made from it a month later.


If only that damned invisible hand of the market would move a bit faster! Surely there’s got to come a point where redefining our waste systems to clean, sort, and process plastics is more cost-effective than shipping them thousands of miles?

sobbing begins


From the article: “And the scrap industry says that much of the plastic that was being shipped in January is considered legitimate under the Basel rules by the companies around the world that are purchasing it to use in manufacturing.”

Not that I don’t doubt the plastic industry has enormous motivations to lie and/or obfuscate the actual destination of these plastics, but if a company is actually purchasing the plastic doesn’t that mean it really has a use for it? Why would they buy it if it was just going to become waste? Or is it that they’re really being paid to take it but it’s being disguised as a purchase in order to circumvent rules?

That picture of the ocean of plastic bottles surrounding the women is heartbreaking. I wish we would stop using permanent materials for inherently temporary purposes.


Corps. that sell water in plastic bottles, are really selling plastic bottles.


People seem to have forgotten the first two Rs - Reduce (consumption) and Reuse. Recycle is last in the list, but that’s where all the emphasis is put.


It’s not even just that. Regardless of how the product itself is packaged or what it’s made of a shit ton of plastic is used in it’s shipping and distribution.

Particularly plastic wrap. Pretty much everything will be packed, and re-packed onto pallets. Wrapped and re-wrapped with hundreds of yards of plastic sheeting. Multiple times. Between production and final arrival at a retailer or final customer.

All of it non-recyclable, all of it single use.

And that’s done for every step of the supply and distribution chain. Every component something is made of, every bit of packaging it’s contained in. All of it was repeated coated with an inch of wrap.


The whole “it’s all recyclable” has turned out to be a lie. Even the stuff that can be recycled isn’t cost effective to do so.

I keep looking at packaging and wonder how I would do it differently. Using egg-carton type material for products to nestle in, vs a tray of plastic. I guess a plastic window may still exist for some things, but does it really need to? I see way more cardboard and chipboard in the future. It will never be down to zero - but it can be reduced.

So… with all the pot/hemp being grown, are we going to start industrialize turning that into cardboard type products? I was told that it could do the jobs that wood pulp often does.


This morning, coincidentally, in The Guardian, naming names:

As a post-child-bearing age human, I worry more about the younger generations contending with this:


“The future is here, it’s not evenly distributed yet.” --William Gibson


Reducing and Reusing don’t make anyone money. If the company doesn’t sell you the single use plastic bit, they can’t make money on it…

At this point, I’m almost despairing to the point of just accepting that we can’t leave that oil in the ground, so making sure we get all the plastic safe and sound into the ground at a garbage dump where we can retrieve it later for use in our post-oil future… :frowning:


“Super Green Recyclables Inc” (SGR), in the USA is paid big money from various municipalities to collect and remove their supposedly recyclable trash.

SGR sets up a shell company “Raw Materials Importers Ltd” (RMI) in a foreign country, and “invests” a bunch of money in RMI every year for “research and development”.

RMI buys “raw materials” from SGR by the container shipload in order to sell it to local business in [third world country that does not have manufacturing industries that use plastics]. Of course not all of the materials RMI buys turns out to be resellable, and the left-over material they cannot sell gets dumped locally or incinerated. Maybe it turns out that only .001% if the plastics RMI buys can actually be resold, but as luckily it has all that investment money continuously pouring in from SGR to keep its “research department” afloat, and allow it to continue to “purchase” the “raw material”.


I would welcome the reintroduction of glass and aluminum containers in grocery stores, and would have no issue with trying wax paper and foil for a lot of products.

Yes, manufacturers would complain about product loss from breakage, but if every manufacturer had to follow the same rules then nobody would have an advantage in the market.


Well, if the price of oil were to rise sufficiently, it would at some point become cheaper to recycle plastics than to produce them…


My county stopped glass curbside recycling pick-up last year. Evidently, even glass is too expensive to recycle. I can still take glass to the dump, myself, where they crush it and use it for roadwork projects. I do this about 1x/mo. My guess is that most glass in Fairfax County, Virginia, is ending up in the landfill.

ETA: I started eating a lot of yogurt when I had my hip replaced in January. Plastic containers. Lots of them! I recently started making my own and bought some mason jars to store it in. No more yogurt containers in my recycling!


Yep. the only thing my city accepts for recycling is aluminum cans, certain, very specific plastic bottles, and corrugated cardboard. NOT! paperboard! (which made me go ‘WTF?!?!’ when I first read the new rules) No glass, no ferrous metal (they suggest taking it to a scrap dealer!) and no other plastics even if they have a recycle mark on them. It came down to a question of money, and the city wasn’t making money on most of the recycle they were collecting. :eyeroll:


the brand of pasta i buy has a cellulose window instead of plastic. it’s transparent enough though still ultimately pointless.

yeah, at the store where i work people are like “i dont want to buy anything that uses plastic” and in my head im always like “well dont come in during receiving”

the pallets come wrapped in yards and yards of saranwrap so the product doesn’t fall off the pallet. the product comes wrapped in plastic units from the factory, even most of the cardboard, glass, and cans are bound in plastic. ( edit: heck. even plastic water bottles come bound in plastic. )

we fill a plastic bag that stands about four feet tall that you cant quite put your hands around with plastic bags and wrap. it probably takes us a few deliveries to completely fill it. but we’re a tiny store.

it’s actually hard to find a place to take it away. nobody can use it for anything. i wouldn’t be surprised if it just gets compacted and thrown in the dump by the “recycler” we do have.


Wow, I really really really need to start doing this with yogurt and kefir. Maybe I will get brave and be inspired by your example. Thank you for prompting me.

With all sincerity: thank you for your service!

I hear you. Recycling services are not fully distributed and are expensive to run. Most waste haulers are now taking enormous losses just by providing such service to their customers.

Paper, glass, metals/aluminum are still, as commodities, where the money is, for recycling companies, these days.

Every time I take a hard look fossil fuel companies, there’s something else new to make me flinch and think hard about countermeasures, alternatives, and more.


The privious Wynn provincial government in Ontario (gave) responds to Nestle water bottling rights at the cost of 5 dollars CAN per 1 million litres. Then said afterwards they need “to look into things”. 1 million litres equals 2million half litre bottles, thats a lot of land fill for 5 bucks over head.


Man… I am fucking sick of bottled water. Jesus Christ, get a water bottle. Fill it up! There are times/places when bottled water is appropriate, but at least 90% of the time a little planning is all that is needed.