Why Developed countries are struggling in recycling their own waste?

Developed Countries are Struggling with waste Management

There are a lot of campaigns encouraging people to recycle more, let’s see what happens when your trash is handled by the government to recycle.

For Decades Several Developed Countries are sending their trash to developing countries to recycle. This worked well until China started banning waste import.

There were several reasons for the ban on importing trash – the rising cost of labour and an abundance of the country’s own potentially recyclable waste. Combining which the Chinese government had no longer the same financial and environmental incentives to accept the world’s waste.

July 2017 was the time when China announced there change in policy in the form of Operation National Sword to curb down their waste import. On March 2018 this ban came in effect, banning 24 types of scrap. With the implementation of stricter standards, the recycling industries were left with a recycling crisis.

Why China Needed So Much waste Import in the first place?

The Chinese Industries were booming in the late ’90s and the early 2000s, thus making their economy thrive by shipping goods to Europe and the U.S, in turn enabling a cheap process of shipping scrap back to China. The Chinese Government started Importing Virgin Plastic from Developing Nations due to the low production of it in their own country. Developing Nations were Happy Sending their Scrap to China and China was happy in recycling. China used the scrap to make products and send them back to these and several other nations.

Why did China Stopped the Waste Imports?

There were several reasons, but the main two reasons were environmental and recycling capabilities.


Beijing (Capital of China) is one of the world’s most polluted city. The booming manufacturing sector of Electronics has taken a serious toll on the air quality of this city. China had to shut down their industries from time to time to decrease their pm level to a manageable level. This high concentration of PM 2.5 particles in the air in the entire nation of China resulted in killing 1.2 Million Chinese Citizens in 2017. China had to improvise in order to save their citizens from these hazardous pollution levels.

Recycling shortcomings

China is the world’s biggest e-waste producer and their recycling capabilities weren’t able to manage this high level of trash. Electronics waste is piling up and if you combine this waste with plastic waste, this spells for a waste disaster and China after seeing their shortcomings in recycling this scrap, they implemented a ban on foreign waste import to first manage their own.

The Impact of Banning Waste Import from developed Nations

When China Banned the Waste Import from several nations it created a ripple effect for other nations to follow. The Waste Import ban from China left developed nations to look for alternatives. Australia was one of the Nation that suffered the most from this ban and this left the nation piling up garbage without proper recycling capabilities.

The Developed nations thought that the waste will be diverted to different places like Southeast Asia. However, the plan didn’t work because countries like Malaysia and Thailand have become overwhelmed with plastic and stopped importing. Now the countries were looking at India , but acting clever, India announced that they wouldn’t take plastics. The Developed Nations are now left with huge piles of Trash in their country with a hope that some country would step up and help sort out their mess.

Plans to Recycle

Now the developed nations are forced to sort out their waste by themselves. The Developed Nations are now teaching their citizens by campaign education to recycle. The Nations are focusing on reducing the waste so that their own Recycling industries can manage the waste.

There are certain hurdles in their quest for waste management, first being is the lack of infrastructure, even when China is taking the majority of the plastic imports from these nations, the government of these nations didn’t upgrade their Recycling facilities. Too much of dependence is the reason why so many nations are now left wondering what to do at this stage.