Your Cart
(0 items)
Congrats! You get FREE Standard Shipping You're $199 away to get FREE Standard Shipping
Your cart is empty!
Looks like your shopping cart is empty, add some love to it.
Contiune Shopping
Blog Exporting our garbage

Exporting our garbage

What’s more environmentally backward than producing millions of tons of plastic that’ll never be recycled?

Producing millions of tons of plastic and then shipping the waste halfway around the world. 

And yet that’s what the U.S. and other Western nations have been doing for decades by sending plastic waste to China and other countries in Asia.

Let’s take a look.

What’s happening?

Up until 2017, China was the top importer of U.S. plastic waste. On average, the United States shipped about 2 million tons of plastic waste each year, despite China only recycling about 17% of it

But starting in 2018, China banned importing secondary materials, specifically plastic and paper. The move forced the U.S. to figure out what to do with millions of tons of plastic. 

And as it turns out, we’ve been struggling ever since on what to do.

Why it matters
Landfilling of plastic waste increased by more than 23% after China’s ban on importing plastic.

Now the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 32.2 million metric tons of plastic end up in landfills.

That matters because plastic and microplastics contaminate our water, soil, and food. PFAS and other “forever chemicals” in plastic are linked to reproductive harm, learning delays in children, cancer, liver damage, and other serious ailments.

Plastic is everywhere
Microplastics are now found virtually everywhere in our environment — from the deepest parts of the oceans to remote Arctic tundra. 

Studies show microplastics are found in beer, wine, rice, table salts, honey, bottled water, fruits, and vegetables. A 2017 study found that 83% of tap water samples from around the world contained microplastic contamination. 

That’s gross

You eat plastic all the time. One study suggests that the average person eats about 5 grams of microplastics per week — about the weight of a credit card. 

Still exporting trash

Despite China's change in approach, the U.S. is still shipping millions of tons of plastic waste around the world. In 2021, for example, the United States exported more than 40 million tons of plastic waste.

So why is the U.S. still exporting its garbage elsewhere? For one, it's often cheaper to ship plastic waste for processing than it is to have it completed domestically.

Secondly, the U.S. is one of the few countries that didn’t ratify an international agreement to stop hauling plastic waste around the globe.

The governments of 187 countries agreed to control the movement of plastic waste between nations — but the United States opted out.
Recent Articles

Wtf is cup coating?

Was plant-based meat a fad?

Fish fraud is a big problem

Stay up to date

Have any questions? Fill out the form below and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Call us at (305)-572-0077
Open Hours (EST): Monday to Friday: 9AM - 5PM