Last year marked a watershed moment for the reduction in plastic pollution in China, its move to reduce the use of single-use plastic is another positive vector supporting the global movement to retail consumption of plastics. Much of China’s plastic waste is produced domestically, and offer large opportunities for recycle and second-life markets where value is brought to the waste. The 2018 enforcement of the Basel Convention and its restriction on the import of second-life materials sent shockwaves through regions that had failed to invest in their own recycling capacities, including United States, Europe, Japan, Australia and Hong Kong.
With over 40,000 variations in the way plastic products are made, it can be argued that solving plastic pollution is more complicated than bringing resolution to climate change. This does not mean that the impacts of plastic pollution are necessarily greater, but given the opportunities for innovation, job creation, and formation of the global circular economy, the global plastic import restrictions can shift to be either China’s or the United States’ golden opportunity to create a circular economy using non-virgin materials.
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