Last year, the US exported 1.42m tons of scrap plastics, worth an estimated US$495m to China.
So what will happen to the plastic these countries collect through household recycling systems once the Chinese refuse to accept it? Plastics collected for recycling could go to energy recovery (incineration).
From understanding why we need to recycle, it’s a simple step for schools to provide students with a hands-on experience of how to recycle, and one of the simplest programs that schools can implement is battery recycling. Even from an early age children are using battery-powered devices and leaving a trail of spent batteries in their wake.
Learning to care about how small and seemingly innocuous items like batteries are disposed of provides an important lesson that can be applied to all other waste.
Between 20, Waste Smart schools in Victoria put learning into practice and diverted the equivalent of 8,716 garbage trucks worth of waste from landfill.
They also achieved some impressive energy and water savings.Towns can also reduce tipping costs and other expenses related to waste disposal, and increase credits recycling incentive programs."Even in small cities, the returns from an efficient recycling program can have quite an impact," according to the EPA.There’s a lot to be said about improving municipal recycling efforts.It helps to keep public spaces clean, eradicate pest problems, and provide measurable environmental benefits by waste diversion from landfills.The more visible and vocal the more likely residents, visitors, and businesses will perceive high rates of recycling and up their participation.Towns should get in the habit of publicizing program changes, and highlighting top-notch recyclers.This campaign against or “foreign garbage” applies to plastic, textiles and mixed paper and will result in China taking a lot less material as it replaces imported materials with recycled material collected in its own domestic market, from its growing middle-class and Western-influenced consumers. This applies equally to other countries including the EU27, where 87% of the recycled plastic collected was exported directly, or indirectly (via Hong Kong), to China.Japan and the US also rely on China to buy their recycled plastic.It can be easily integrated into a range of subjects, with its practical and hands-on nature helping to provide relevance to topics that many students may find a bit abstract. For example, Zero Waste South Australia provides teachers with resources aimed at students from early years through to middle school.Other state government and non-government organisations offer a range of materials that not only help schools become more effective in teaching students about recycling, but in becoming better recyclers too.