Category FAQs Search : Waste Trade Pollution

Question: Evolution of the global polyethylene waste trade system

Answer: China’s import bans on solid wastes starting from 2017 have challenged the global trade system of plastic wastes, which remains poorly characterized. This study chooses polyethylene (PE) as a case and aims to map out the global trade networks of PE waste (GPETN) from 1976 to 2017. We find that the size and complexity of the GPETN had been growing until 2016. After the mid-1990s, PE waste basically flowed from developed economies, mainly the EU and the US, to developing economies such as China. Since 2001 when admitted into the WTO, China’s PE waste import surged until 2014 when it absorbed over 60% of global export. Regulations on solid waste import following the Green Fence campaign in 2013 resulted in substantial reductions in China’s import as well as the global export of PE waste after 2014. Several other developing economies, such as Malaysia, Turkey, and Vietnam, had transitioned to net importers, but their imports were insufficient to replace China as new recycling bases for PE waste.The results highlight the urgent need of a joint effort for developed and developing countries to build a stronger global circular economy system with sufficient capacity to treat PE waste locally.

(Source: Pustaka Negeri Sarawak, 10 Jun 2021)

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