US trash up, China closes re­cy­cling door

Bei­jing no longer buy­ing ‘con­tam­i­nated’ ma­te­ri­als

Arab Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

WASH­ING­TON, July 12, (AFP): For months, a ma­jor re­cy­cling fa­cil­ity for the greater Bal­ti­more-Wash­ing­ton area has been fac­ing a big prob­lem: it has to pay to get rid of huge amounts of pa­per and plas­tic it would nor­mally sell to China.

Bei­jing is no longer buy­ing, claim­ing the re­cy­cled ma­te­ri­als are “con­tam­i­nated.”

For sure, the 900 tons of trash dumped at all hours of the day and night, five days a week, on the con­veyor belts at the plant in Elkridge, Mary­land — an hour’s drive from the US cap­i­tal — are not clean.

Amid the nerve-shat­ter­ing din and clouds of brown dust, dozens of work­ers in gloves and masks — most of them women — nim­bly pluck a di­verse ar­ray of ob­jects from the piles that could count as “con­tam­i­nants.”

That could be any­thing from clothes to ca­bles to tree branches to the bane of all recyclers: plas­tic bags, which are not sup­posed to go in re­cy­cling bins be­cause they snarl up the ma­chin­ery.

“We’ve had to slow our ma­chin­ery, and hire more peo­ple” to clean up the waste, says Michael Tay­lor, the head of re­cy­cling oper­a­tions for Waste Man­age­ment, the com­pany that runs the plant.

At the end of the sort­ing line is the end prod­uct — huge bales of com­pacted waste con­tain­ing pa­per, card­board or plas­tics.

These have been bought up for decades by busi­nesses, most of them based in China, which clean them up, crush them and trans­form them into raw ma­te­ri­als for in­dus­trial plants.

Last year, China bought up more than half of the scrap ma­te­ri­als ex­ported by the United States.

vaca, More­los state, be­longed to the re­gion’s Tlahuica cul­ture.

As a re­sult of the earth­quake, “the pyra­mid suf­fered con­sid­er­able re­arrange­ment of the core of its struc­ture,” said ar­chae­ol­o­gist

Study

Glob­ally, since 1992, 72 per­cent of plas­tic waste has ended up in China and Hong Kong, ac­cord­ing to a study in the journal Science Ad­vances.

But since Jan­uary, China has closed its bor­ders to most pa­per and plas­tic waste in line with a new en­vi­ron­men­tal pol­icy pushed by Bei­jing, which no longer wants to be the world’s trash can, or even its re­cy­cle bin.

For other waste prod­ucts such as card­board and metal, China has set a con­tam­i­na­tion level of 0.5 per­cent — a thresh­old too low for most cur­rent US tech­nol­ogy to han­dle.

Bar­bara Koniecza of the Na­tional In­sti­tute of An­thro­pol­ogy and His­tory (INAH).

The great­est dam­age was at the top, where two tem­ples had al­ready been dis­cov­ered — one ded­i­cated

US waste han­dlers say they ex­pect China will close its doors to all re­cy­cled ma­te­ri­als by 2020 — an im­pos­si­bly short dead­line.

“There is no sin­gle and frankly, prob­a­bly not even a group of coun­tries, that can take in the vol­ume that China used to take,” warns Ad­ina Re­nee Adler of the Wash­ing­ton-based In­sti­tute of Scrap Re­cy­cling In­dus­tries. The Waste Man­age­ment fa­cil­ity in Elkridge man­ages to sell its plas­tic bot­tles to a buyer in South Carolina and ships its card­board abroad.

But its haul of mixed pa­per and mixed plas­tics is ef­fec­tively worth­less, and the plant pays sub­con­trac­tors to haul it away.

Other US re­cy­cling plants have bro­ken a ma­jor taboo and no longer bother sort­ing plas­tic and pa­per, and in­stead sim­ply send it straight to land­fills.

Fact

“No­body wants to say it out loud, be­cause no­body likes the fact that they’re hav­ing to do it,” said Bill Cae­sar, the head of waste com­pany WCA in Hous­ton.

Waste Man­age­ment and Repub­lic Ser­vices, an­other in­dus­try heavy­weight, have ad­mit­ted do­ing it un­der lim­ited cir­cum­stances, while some small towns, par­tic­u­larly in Florida, have sim­ply stopped col­lect­ing re­cy­clable waste. Other scrap im­porter coun­tries such as In­done­sia, Viet­nam or In­dia are in­ca­pable of ab­sorb­ing the tens of mil­lions of tons that China had pre­vi­ously taken. And few Amer­i­can in­dus­tries pos­sess the abil­ity to treat the waste. “The big­gest is­sue here is that China just gave very lit­tle time for the in­dus­try to tran­si­tion,” said Adler.

Dar­rell Smith, pres­i­dent of the Na­tional Waste and Re­cy­cling As­so­ci­a­tion, added: “Even­tu­ally we will have such a large backup that more and more will have to start be­ing di­verted to land­fills if we don’t find new mar­kets and new uses for the re­cy­cled ma­te­ri­als.”

The messy prob­lem is start­ing to get punted down the line to cities and towns dur­ing the rene­go­ti­a­tion of mu­nic­i­pal con­tracts.

That is com­pounded by the fact that many cities al­ready have am­bi­tious re­cy­cling tar­gets: Wash­ing­ton wants to see 80 per­cent of house­hold waste re­cy­cled, up from the cur­rent 23 per­cent.

The US cap­i­tal al­ready pays $75 a ton for re­cy­cling, com­pared to $46 for waste that is burned to gen­er­ate elec­tric­ity.

to the Mesoamer­i­can god of the sun and war, Huitzilopochtli, and an­other to Tlaloc.

“The floor of both shrines sank and bent, which also put their sta­bil­ity in dan­ger,” Koniecza said. QUE­BEC, July 12, (AP): Nathaniel Pryor Reed, a tire­less en­vi­ron­men­tal ad­vo­cate who helped craft the US En­dan­gered Species Act, has died in Que­bec. He was 84. Adrian Reed told The As­so­ci­ated Press his fa­ther fell and clipped his head on a rock July 3 af­ter catch­ing and re­leas­ing a salmon on the Grand Cas­cape­dia River, one of his fa­vorites in Canada.

He never re­gained con­scious­ness, and died Wednes­day.

When the INAH car­ried out stud­ies with radar to ex­am­ine the pyra­mid’s struc­ture, they found traces of the newly dis­cov­ered Tlaloc tem­ple. (AFP)

1st-ever colour X-ray:

New Zealand sci­en­tists have per­formed the first-ever 3-D, colour X-ray on a hu­man, us­ing a tech­nique that prom­ises to im­prove the field of med­i­cal di­ag­nos­tics, said Europe’s CERN physics lab which con­trib­uted imag­ing tech­nol­ogy.

The new de­vice, based on the tra­di­tional black-and-white X-ray, in­cor­po­rates par­ti­cle-track­ing tech­nol­ogy de­vel­oped for CERN’s Large Hadron Col­lider, which in 2012 dis­cov­ered the elu­sive Higgs Bo­son par­ti­cle.

“This colour X-ray imag­ing tech­nique could pro­duce clearer and more ac­cu­rate pic­tures and help doc­tors give their pa­tients more ac­cu­rate di­ag­noses,” said a CERN state­ment.

The CERN tech­nol­ogy, dubbed Medipix, works like a cam­era de­tect­ing and count­ing in­di­vid­ual sub-atomic par­ti­cles as they col­lide with pix­els while its shutter is open. (AFP)

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