As Californians honor Earth Day 2019, the state’s beaches, waterways and parks remain littered with disturbing amounts of trash, especially plastic pollution. And the problem promises to get worse, despite the fact that California has a recycling goal of 75 percent of our solid waste by 2020.
Why? Over the past couple of years, California has lost major markets for recyclable materials, particularly plastics. In 2017, China established Operation National Sword, which limited recycling imports and banned a number of plastics. In January of this year, China expanded its ban to include post-consumer plastics such as shampoo and soda bottles.
India, which had become one of the top importers of U.S. plastics, followed China. Last month, the nation announced that it will also ban scrap plastic imports.
As a result, the U.S. recycling rate for plastics is expected to plummet from 9.1 percent in 2015 to as low as 2.9 percent this year.
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