Paper or plastic? Neither. China doesn’t want our trash. It banned importing of “yang laji,” foreign trash, in January 2018. For years, China was an easy and willing recipient for things the West didn’t want. China’s ban should be applauded as a positive step toward environmental and public health. Processing “yang laji’ created additional pollution on top of what the country is already grappling with. But the ban left the western world, including Seattle, scrambling to find a reliable solution for its recyclables.
A major processor of exported recyclables for decades, China took in about half of the world’s waste paper and used plastic. As the world’s most populous country becomes more prosperous, it is generating enough of its own “laji,” or trash, to support a vibrant domestic recycling industry. China also posts stricter contamination standards for what it now accepts in recyclables—a standard too high for most countries to meet.
Source: Asian Weekly - https://nwasianweekly.com/2019/05/business-not-as-usual-in-recycling/