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Beijing wastes no time sending rubbish back to UK

  • Staff Reporter
  • 2012-11-14
  • 08:47 (GMT+8)
A landfill site in Chengdu. (File photo/Xinhua)

A landfill site in Chengdu. (File photo/Xinhua)

Hundreds of tonnes of rubbish has been shipped back from China to Britain as the Chinese government signals that it is no longer prepared to accept shipments of household waste, as has been the practice in the past. The British government will need to find another way to deal with waste soon since China's rising middle class and increasing environmental awareness will make it more and more difficult for other countries to toss their garbage across its borders, says British tabloid Daily Mail.

The newspaper said the British government has neglected to find a better solution for disposing the country's household waste for years, resorting to exporting it to East Asian countries, including China, and contributing to pollution in the region.

Around 420 tonnes of rubbish produced by the British public were shipped in 17 containers to Asia this year, of which 70% were transported to the Far East. Beijing had issued a warning about its tougher stance on landfill waste before the trash had been sent out.

The British media said the household waste was not toxic but was very complicated to sort and process since many households do not follow the government's recycling policy of separating different types of rubbish into different recycling bins.

The lucrative recycling business was what originally drew so much garbage from across the sea, with many Chinese businesses actually importing rubbish from other countries. Research from the British government showed that more than two million tonnes of rubbish are shipped from Britain to China annually. Many cargo ships exporting consumer products from China to Britain carry discarded items and recycling waste on their route back.

Chinese environmental authorities said they would crack down on illegal garbage smuggling after the report was released.

The processing of rubbish around the world has not improved along with technological advances because of a lack of economic incentives, said a staff member of the UK's Industry Council for Packaging and the Environment, a research organization. Emerging economies such as China and India and developed Western nations have been the main rubbish producers, according to Communist Party tabloid Global Times.

The amount of waste, especially electronics products, produced by the former has been increasing, while the latter have been found consistently dumping their trash in other countries, especially developing economies, the newspaper.

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