Because China // episode 1

China is forcing the world to rethink recycling

Member exclusive by Nikhil Sonnad

This story is part of an ongoing series on how China is reshaping our world.

The global recycling system is broken. Just don’t blame China.

It would be tempting to blame China. For decades, beginning in the 1990s, most of the world’s plastic ended up there. China bought plastic from rich countries, recycled it, and turned it into cheap products. But in 2017, China decided it didn’t want to take the world’s recycling any more, and it banned all plastic from entering the country.