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Infographic – Where the World Ships its Plastic Waste

Plastic waste imports

Cumulative imports of plastic waste from 1988 to 2016. Click on chart for full-size view. (Statista)

23 June 2018. Yesterday on Science & Enterprise, we posted a story about a lab at Colorado State University that created a way of quickly and inexpensively making biodegradable commodity polymers from renewable materials. Also yesterday, our friends at Statista posted a chart underscoring the great urgency for this kind of plastic material, this weekend’s infographic.

The chart shows China imports more than 72 percent of the world’s waste plastic between 1988 and 2016, amounting to $81 billion in trade value. But there’s a problem: China announced last year that by 2030, it will stop importing waste plastic. As the Science Advances article — the source of the data for the chart — states, “bold global ideas and actions for reducing quantities of nonrecyclable materials, redesigning products, and funding domestic plastic waste management are needed.”

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