Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.


Sunday, July 8, 2018

For the last couple of weeks, we addressed the problem recycling companies now face with plastic collected because of China reducing the percent of contamination allowed in imports to less than one-tenth of what it was.

I hoped those two articles covered it fairly well until I received an emailed article with the following info. Hope you don’t mind more on the subject.

The article was titled: “China Just Handed the World a 111-Million-Ton Trash Problem.”

“Few people consider used plastic to be a valuable global commodity. Yet China has imported 106 million tons of old bags, bottles, wrappers and containers worth $57.6 billion since 1992, the first year it disclosed data. So when the country announced last year that it finally had enough of everybody else’s junk, governments the world over knew they had a problem. They just didn’t know exactly how large it was.

Now it seems they know. By 2030, an approximate 111 million metric tons of used plastic will need to be buried or recycled somewhere else –o r not manufactured at all.

The figures are from global trade data compiled by University of Georgia researchers.

We know there is a lot of plastic out there, but if you’re like me, you just aren’t aware of how much. It appears that everyone’s bottles, bags and food packages add up. Factories have churned out a cumulative 8.3 billion metric tons of new plastic, as of 2017.

That’s billion, with even 1 million tons. The article explained just a million tons is like half million new cars or 39 million bushels of corn kernels. If compared to the cell phone you and I use, 700 million of them would be about a tenth of a million metric tons.

But what captured my attention even more was not only this new problem of recycled plastic looking for a place to go, but how much plastic made compared to what little of it is recycled.

The article stated, that nearly four-fifths of all the manufactured plastic has been tossed into landfills or the environment and a tenth of it has been burned. And even worse, several million tons reach oceans every year, littering beaches and vast reaches of the northern Pacific. It seems just nine percent of the total plastic ever generated has been recycled.

Unfortunately, the world’s current plastic problem has been building for decades. “

“Since mass production began in the early 1950s, annual output has grown from about 2 million tons to 322 million produced in 2015.”

This means that current production rates exceed our ability to dispose of it effectively, and supply is expected only to grow.

Thus the study concluded, “Without bold new ideas and management strategies, current recycling rates will no longer be met, and ambitious goals and timelines for future recycling growth will be insurmountable.”

I think what they are trying to tell us is we better try to use less plastic or we’ll be drowning in it. Use those cloth bags when shopping instead of those throw-away plastic bags, use refillable water bottles instead of all those single use water bottles, buy toys made from metal rather than plastic, etc. Every little bit adds up.

Till next week, do have a great one...


Ollie is a local citizen concerned with the environment and helping others. A retired Air Force fighter and instructor pilot, he is a graduate of Leadership San Marcos and received his degrees at Texas State University where he worked on staff before totally retiring. For questions or comments, he invites you to call him at 512-353-7432 or e-mail

San Marcos Record

(512) 392-2458
P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666