How to avoid drowning in waste

For years rich countries have adopted a policy of ‘out of sight, out of mind’ when it comes to recycling waste.

The World Today Updated 28 September 2020 Published 30 September 2019 1 minute READ

Alan Philps

Former Editor, The World Today, Communications and Publishing

For years rich countries have adopted a policy of ‘out of sight, out of mind’ when it comes to recycling waste. Consumers have been filling their bins with rubbish that is contaminated with food or otherwise unsuitable for recycling in the knowledge that it will be shipped abroad for someone else to sort out.

Not any more. Since China stopped taking in the world’s rubbish, the system has broken down leaving mountains of waste to be buried or burnt, writes Kate O’Neill in our cover story. The only solution is a global approach to the export of domestic rubbish, as already applies to the transfer of hazardous waste.

A good starting point is to ban single-use plastic. Patrick Schröder and Ashish Chaturvedi report from the Indian state of Tamil Nadu on a plan to stop plastic waste polluting the shoreline and the oceans. Ann Pettifor, the economist and champion of the Green New Deal, explains why her ideas are gaining ground among US Democrats.

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