China’s Plastic Waste Ban Will Leave 111 Million Tons of Trash With Nowhere To Go

Since 1988, nearly half of the planet’s plastic trash has been sent to China, where the material is recycled to make more plastic goods. But last year China put a halt to a lot of the plastic waste that foreign countries like the US sent to its shores for disposal, forcing them to find new ways to deal with their own trash.According to a study published in Science Advances, this ban might leave 111 million metric tons of plastic trash with nowhere to go by 2030. 

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I don't get it why all countries were sending this plastic waste to China for the last 30 years? Why doesn't every country take care of their own? 
 

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Probably because China need this waste to make those cheap toys or car parts that come again to us. 

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China was profiting on recycling and now that option is gone. Smart move of all other countries now would be to find another solution and make their own profit. 

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Let's put thing on the right place. While we were pointing fingers to China's pollution problem, actually in one part all these other countries were partially responsible for it. I guess time has come that US and Europe clean their own waste. 

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And China can start sending the trash back, you know, spread the problem more proportionately. Can't it just be burned? Emissions, I know, but is it better to let it sit?

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What can't be recycled in the country can be incinerated for electricity (ideally CHP).

111 million tonnes of plastic could provide 50GW of power generation continuous equivalent). 

 

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Hi, here is my first post on this site :)

 

Processing of waste in the coutry of origin

Of course, you can burn waste and generate the low value product electric power with poor efficiency and nasty flue gas as well as toxic dust and ash. Better solution would be gasifying the waste and convert the produced syngas either into bulk fuels like methanol or methane if there are sufficient subsidies or convert the syngas into high value products by new synthesis routes currently being commercialized. I have fun with the latter one. The main fraction of carbon will stay in product and the minor fraction (the tribute to entropie) of carbon converted to CO2 can be either extracted an e.g. sold to glasshouse farmer or enhanced oil recovery or could be utilized in downstream product synthesis.

If the process concept and technologies are chosen carefully, then gasification and synthesis can have all:

- high efficiency as chemical efficiency (carbon in product vs. carbon in feedstock) and high thermal efficiency (heating value/energy of products vs. heating value of feedstock)

- low water consumption, no toxic wastes

- revenues from all products

- possibility to feed in power from renewable energy either directly as electric power for motors etc or as hydrogen as additional feedstock of product synthesis

Cheers

Juergen

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50 minutes ago, wa601 said:

Hi, here is my first post on this site :)

 

Processing of waste in the coutry of origin

Of course, you can burn waste and generate the low value product electric power with poor efficiency and nasty flue gas as well as toxic dust and ash. Better solution would be gasifying the waste and convert the produced syngas either into bulk fuels like methanol or methane if there are sufficient subsidies or convert the syngas into high value products by new synthesis routes currently being commercialized. I have fun with the latter one. The main fraction of carbon will stay in product and the minor fraction (the tribute to entropie) of carbon converted to CO2 can be either extracted an e.g. sold to glasshouse farmer or enhanced oil recovery or could be utilized in downstream product synthesis.

If the process concept and technologies are chosen carefully, then gasification and synthesis can have all:

- high efficiency as chemical efficiency (carbon in product vs. carbon in feedstock) and high thermal efficiency (heating value/energy of products vs. heating value of feedstock)

- low water consumption, no toxic wastes

- revenues from all products

- possibility to feed in power from renewable energy either directly as electric power for motors etc or as hydrogen as additional feedstock of product synthesis

Cheers

Juergen

Take in mind this

-Thermal powerplants are not that unefficient, a 700C ultra-supercritical steam powerplant can have efficiencies up to 55%

-While Ash is definitely a problem isn't the problem of the century, it can be used for high strength concrete, sulfur can also be used for that, sulfur-flyash concrete has very good corrosion resistance and compression resistance compared to normal concrete

-If somehow you manage to purify the CO2 with very low mercury, sulfur, cadmium, lead, and chormium levels it can be used for a lot of aplications, as refrigerant, inert gas for welding, working fluid, pressure fluid for fracking and in-situ oil sand recovery, diluyent in in-situ leaching, and so on.

if you separate products from the flue gas then you find is possible to make various products that are in not small demand.

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I don't know the answer, but I believe we have a very significant problem with waste plastics generation of all kinds. I am very concerned about this. At my home we recycle plastics and I am truly amazed at just how much plastic waste we collect every week, no every day! I fear we are literally drowning in plastics and they don't disappear, they just accumulate. As a society we need to do something about this problem. I believe it is already out of hand. The plastic industry needs to help solve the problem. Some plastic uses may need to be outlawed. The sharp plastic tooth floss pieces, I see laying on the ground in parking lots are disgusting, and I believe should be outlawed. Plastics are very useful, but we must find a way to get rid of them after their typical one time use. 

 

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Good thing there are people like Boyan Slat out there cleaning things up.

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Tom Blazek,

Before getting an answer I would like to raise the right questions, which I would like to express as specification for a future waste processing plant:

- Industrial scale. Processing of waste in same scale of waste production.

- Closing the carbon cycle. Generate a new product from carbon in waste. Do it in relevant scale, see above. No relevant CO2 to atmosphere.

- Make profit from all incoming and outcoming streams.

- Prove a high overall efficiency.

It is difficult to discuss a real answer, i.e. technical solution, without disclosing relevant future business cases. But let us take a generic exemplary example, which I could of course prove in detail:

- processing of 300,000 tons of Solid Refused Fuel (SRF) per annum or more

- getting gate fee for SRF

- producing methane from SRF for grid injection

- getting revenue for Methane as well as subsidies

- extracting of virtually all CO2 produced as pure high pressure CO2 from process, easy to liquify

- getting revenue from CO2 e.g. selling to glass house farmer or enhanced oil recovery or for cola

- high total thermal efficiency of more than 85% expressed as (lower heating value of methane + usable enthalpie from produced steam as byproduct) / lower heating value of SRF

- high total chemical efficiency of more than 62% expressed as lower heating value of methane / lower heating value of SRF.

Of course, higher chemical efficiency is possible if you

1) do not need more hydrogen in product than contained in waste/feedstock for gasification

2) utilize CO2 in product synthesis

Nothing new here. But you need folks being serious on real! solution of the waste issue in industrial scale. Waste routes will change. Think about new high profitable chemicals from new synthesis routes based on hydrogen, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide which could be produced in all ratios by gasification from biomass, waste or any other carbanecous material. I like the green products from biomass or waste... Can you visualize the biomass or waste based industrial scale production of your future cosmetics or wall color of your sleeping room or seat cushion in your EV?

Best regards,

Juergen

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5 hours ago, Tom Blazek said:

I don't know the answer, but I believe we have a very significant problem with waste plastics generation of all kinds. I am very concerned about this. At my home we recycle plastics and I am truly amazed at just how much plastic waste we collect every week, no every day! I fear we are literally drowning in plastics and they don't disappear, they just accumulate. As a society we need to do something about this problem. I believe it is already out of hand. The plastic industry needs to help solve the problem. Some plastic uses may need to be outlawed. The sharp plastic tooth floss pieces, I see laying on the ground in parking lots are disgusting, and I believe should be outlawed. Plastics are very useful, but we must find a way to get rid of them after their typical one time use. 

 

Outlaw single-use plastics? Why not. You can put it on the America's Most Wanted poster next to the Big Gulp and Kinder Eggs.

I mean, you could find new and improved ways to recycle, but why not just go for broke and do away with it all together? It's easier. 

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Not easy to replace plastic. Actually, very difficult. Look at Germany. One day after introduction of deposits on plastic bottles as well as cans no more bottles and cans on parking lots as was as in the scenery. But how to process the very big amount of plastic waste after returning? Burning plastic is not nice to the environment and provides a low price product. What is about if you could close the carbon cycle and produce high priced products? This is what I wanted to express in my previous post.

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25 minutes ago, wa601 said:

Not easy to replace plastic. Actually, very difficult. Look at Germany. One day after introduction of deposits on plastic bottles as well as cans no more bottles and cans on parking lots as was as in the scenery. But how to process the very big amount of plastic waste after returning? Burning plastic is not nice to the environment and provides a low price product. What is about if you could close the carbon cycle and produce high priced products? This is what I wanted to express in my previous post.


I'm not sure this is what you meant, but it made me think of a really good idea. There are lots of things to be done with recycled plastic, and if it is too expensive there are plenty of environmental do-gooders that would be happy to pay extra for some feel-good product that cost an arm and a leg but has a stamp of reclaimed on it. Why not let those who want to subsidize the entire industry for the rest of us do so. I see that now in the grocery checkout lanes where you can buy a pack of gum that  costs twice as much because it saves the whales it something. They get to keep feeling morally superior, and the rest of the world gets to keep using foam dinnerware to keep from having to do the dishes. win win 

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Missy,

you are right. High price tag of a renwable product IMO means two price adder:

1) cost of production by competing technologies. This could be rather low for electric power such as from co-incineration of biomass or waste in coal power plants. However, this product is easy to market. Or this could be rather high for more complex chemicals or polymers produced by new synthesis routes. Here, you usually need a partner to market these chemicals.

2) environmental price stamp for renewable product based on biomass or waste. Think about a sofa. One sofa has cushion foam from oil, the other sofa has cushion foam from coconut shell, corn straw, or plastic waste from NYC. You can place a biiig closed carbon cycle stamp on the latter one. A NYC hipster will pay for that. I would do also :)

Cheers

Juergen

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Plastic can be safely burned and used to generate electricity. It requires special incinerators and filters, but the waste is a valuable fuel. Natural gas assistance may be needed for the best combustion. It may not be very profitable but it is not a major problem. 

Recycling might be preferable but the investment may not be cost effective in the  USA. 

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Plastics become  an environmental menace once it served its purpose like all form packaging, utilities, profiting. No amount of recycling can free the world of garbage from plastics, it will just delay the accumulation.  I've been into plastic business all my professional life  from giant petrochemical companies from middle east to southeast Asia. One thing I observed..no one spent money on how to handle the plastic waste. Why not these multinational companies along with local authorities devise a scheme to collect, buy back or barter the waste with their virgin resin. Producers have the complete technology and knowledge on how to handle, dispose  or make use of it, instead of just sell and forget. Users/customers cannot be expected to handle the garbage nicely. Producers may incinerate or recover the energy content.

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25 minutes ago, Jovito Catungal said:

One thing I observed..no one spent money on how to handle the plastic waste. Why not these multinational companies along with local authorities devise a scheme to collect, buy back or barter the waste with their virgin resin. Producers have the complete technology and knowledge on how to handle, dispose  or make use of it, instead of just sell and forget. 

I'm not sure that's entirely accurate. Many plastics manufacturers have processes in place to do just that.

https://www.dartcontainer.com/environment/foam-recycling-centers/

 

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