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Return to Sender: Western nations Trash is no longer Welcome

More than 270 million tons of waste are recycled across the world each year (Re.World Bank).Since the past 25 years, the Western countries have sent many tens of millions of tons of waste -including plastic, electrical and toxic materials- in developing countries like Philippines, Malaysia Vietnam and Indonesia. Regarding plastic waste, the case of China is of particular interest. China banned the import of most plastics in January 2018. This decision caused panic across the Western world. And we very well understand why: the fact is that 95% of the plastics collected for recycling in the EU and 70% in the US were shipped to China (Re.Wired). It must also be stressed that other countries such as Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam decided to prohibit imports of such waste within the next 5 years. And India's government has now put a complete ban on the import of solid plastic waste. Moreover, these countries are sending the West's trash back because they are in a phase of strong development and therefore generate locally much greater quantities of wastes. By 2050, waste generation in Sub-Saharan Africa is expected to more than triple from current levels, while South-Asia will more than double its waste stream (Re.World Bank). A growing world population and a rapid urbanization are largely responsible for this disastrous situation. And the situation continues to deteriorate. The solutions are well known, however. We need to invest urgently and massively in new recycling and disposal facilities around the world. And it cannot be repeated too often: we must reduce significantly the amount of waste we generate.

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