[OPE] Environmental viewpoint: learning to handle the rubbish

From: Jurriaan Bendien <adsl675281@telfort.nl>
Date: Sat Sep 26 2009 - 15:19:09 EDT

As China continues to tighten its rules about waste dumping and insists
firms such as Ciparo accept only recyclables, so sorting the rubbish at the
western end becomes crucial. China already has massive landfills of its own
that are a political issue - China wants waste it can profitably recycle but
does not want landfill moved from the west.

New Rules Lead Europe to Dump Trash Abroad
Published: IHT September 26, 2009

(...) Exporting waste illegally to poor countries has become a vast and
growing international business, as companies try to minimize the costs of
new environmental laws, like those here, that tax waste or require that it
be recycled or otherwise disposed of in an environmentally responsible way.
Rotterdam, the busiest port in Europe, has unwittingly become Europe's main
external garbage chute http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=onKrpUeocUk, a gateway
for trash bound for places like China, Indonesia, India and Africa. There,
electronic waste and construction debris containing toxic chemicals are
often dismantled by children at great cost to their health. Other garbage
that is supposed to be recycled according to European law may be simply
burned or left to rot, polluting air and water and releasing the
heat-trapping gases linked to global warming.

While much of the waste trade is legal, sent to qualified overseas
recyclers, a big chunk is not. For a price, underground traders make Europe's
waste disappear overseas. After Europe first mandated recycling electronics
like televisions and computers, two to three tons of electronic waste was
turned in last year, far less than the seven tons anticipated. Much of the
rest was probably exported illegally, according to the European Environment
Agency. http://www.eea.europa.eu/themes/waste Paper, plastic and metal trash
exported from Europe rose tenfold from 1995 to 2007, the agency says, with
20 million containers of waste now shipped each year either legally or
illegally. Half of that passes through this huge port, where trucks and
ships exchange goods around the clock.

In the United States, more states are passing laws that require the
recycling of goods, especially electronics. But because the United States
places fewer restrictions on trash exports and monitors them far less than
Europe, that increasing volume is flowing relatively freely overseas, mostly
legally, experts say. Up to 100 containers of waste from the United States
and Canada arrive each day, according to environmental groups and local
authorities in Hong Kong.

"Now we are collecting far more, but they can't prevent it from going
offshore. People talk about 'leakage,' but it's really a hemorrhage," said
Jim Puckett, director of the Basel Action Network, a Seattle-based
environmental nonprofit that tracks waste exported from the United States.
http://www.ban.org/BAN_NEWS/index.html The temptation to export waste is
great because recycling properly at home is expensive: Because of Europe's
new environmental laws, it is four times as expensive to incinerate trash in
the Netherlands as to put it - illegally - on a boat to China. And the vast
container ships that arrive in Europe and North America from Asia filled
with cheap garments and electrical goods now have a profitable return cargo:
garbage like steel cables, circuit boards and leftovers from last night's
pasta meal.

"The traffic in waste exports has become enormous," said Christian Fischer,
chief consultant on waste to the European Environment Agency, which released
its first study on the topic this year, "but we need much better information
about it."
The Dutch have taken a lonely lead in inspecting waste exports and curbing
the traffic, providing a rare window into the trade. They estimate that 16
percent of the exports are illegal. But in most ports where customs
inspectors typically check imports far more thoroughly than exports, much
probably passes through unnoticed. (...)

Complete text

Movie about Chinese recycling http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZHTWRYXy2gE

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Received on Sat Sep 26 15:20:56 2009

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