>> China used to take roughly half of Europe's exports of plastic trash like this for recycling or other disposal. But an environmental crackdown China began last January, has led to a whopping 96% drop in how much it takes. And now, there's a messy problem for Europe, what to do with all this leftover garbage.
It's piling up everywhere, from building sites to the docks that would have brought it to China, not long ago. This is a recycling depot in China's Guandong Province. China started banning the imports because too much of it was dirty or unsorted and too expensive to recycle in that kind of state.
Lots were simply burned in open pits or ended up filling their own streets. A possible for Europe is to generate more electricity from their leftovers by burning it in special power plants. They already do it for 41% of their plastic. But that, of course, creates more air pollution.
There are more, radical ideas being floated though. One is to bury the plastic, so that it can be dug up in the future when recycling tech gets better. Critics say that's a big unknown though and burying it comes with its own risks and is hugely expensive.