Europe drowning in plastic waste

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Plastic bottles at a Chinese recycling plantNow that China has closed its doors, from January 1, 2018, to (plastic) waste for recycling from Europe (and elsewhere) the countries of Europe are beginning to drown in (plastic) waste and many are now looking for other developing countries, such as Vietnam, to take this waste for recycling, Britain among them.

Instead of actually reducing waste, especially, though not restricted to, plastic waste, and secondly building our own facilities for recycling the countries are, yet again, looking for places with lower environmental standards to where to dump the waste rather than doing the other.

Obviously, considering the high environmental legislations in the home countries it would be too expensive for the capitalists to do it at home and hence other countries, with lower and fewer environmental laws and legilations have to be found where our waste can poison the unsuspecting workers. Couldn't possibly have those recycling plants properly operated in our own countries now, could we. But that is exactly what we should be doing.

Before even thinking about recycling we should, properly, work on reducing the amount of waste, plastic and otherwise, that we generate and that is where all, but for starters industry and legislators, come in.

Now that China declines to take any more of our garbage we should be doing our own recycling, after reducing as much as we can, of our waste and by doing so lead the way and we would also create jobs.

When, however, we talk about recycling then recycling it really should be rather than, as in the case of most glass recyclables, downcyling said glass into a road aggregate akin to sand. That is not recycling.

As far as single-use plastic is concerned this needs to be eliminated once and for all as it cannot, properly, be recycled, at least not into decent objects and while there is nothing, per se, wrong with good solid, for lack of a better word, plastic that will and can be in use for a long time, we should phase out plastic more and more over time till we are almost, once again, free of the stuff.

As far as other waste, including and especially E-waste is concerned, industry has to come into play and design to once again – yes, we were there once already – to make products that actually last not just for a year or three but for decades and more. Oh, yes, sorry, I forgot that that does not give huge profits to the capitalist shareholders.

Instead of solving the problem at home our respective governments are looking for other developing – we used to call those Third World – countries which we can contaminate, and their unsuspecting residents, with our waste, by having them recycle the stuff that we don't want to recycle at home, in bad conditions. The new colonialism.

We should be doing the recycling – after looking at all the other options of reuse and so on prior to recycling – at home, in good conditions for the workers and the environment, as dictated by law. This would also create jobs, from collecting, to sorting, to the actual recycling. But, alas, that cannot be as that would be expensive.

© 2018