Category FAQs Search : Waste Trade Pollution

Question: China’s plastic import ban increases prospects of environmental impact mitigation of plastic waste trade flow worldwide

Answer: Since the late 1990s, the trend of plastic waste shipment from developed to developing countries has been increasing. In 2017, China announced an unprecedented ban on its import of most plastic waste, resulting in a sharp decline in global plastic waste trade flow and changes in the treatment structure of countries, whose impacts on global environmental sustainability are enormous but yet unexamined. Here, through the life cycle assessment (LCA) method, we quantified the environmental impacts of changes in the flow patterns and treatment methods of 6 types of plastic waste in 18 countries subsequent to the ban. In the short term, the ban significantly improved four midpoint indicators of environmental impact, albeit contributed to global warming. An annual saving of about 2.35 billion euros of eco-cost was realized, which is equivalent to 56% of plastic waste global trade value in 2017. To achieve global environmental sustainability in the long run, countries should gradually realize the transition from export to domestic management, and from landfill to recycling, which would realize eco-costs savings of about 1.54–3.20 billion euros.

(Source: Pustaka Negeri Sarawak, 13 Jul 2021)

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