Since China’s entrance into the World Trade Organization in 2001, China has been accepting paper and plastic recycling from around the world – partly due to the cheap labor required to process recyclables. It was estimated that China imported approximately 40 million metric tons of recyclable products every year.
However, the increase in pollution in China has led to a ban in 2018 of foreign recyclables. Now that China no longer accepts America’s trash, some cities and municipalities are scaling back or altogether stopping their recycling programs. Experts estimate that China’s ban will lead to an additional 111 metric tons of garbage by the year 2030.