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Plastic recycling, China strategy
Time: 2020/1/12 10:48:42 Source:绿凯思科GETRECYCLING Author:GET营销中心 Hits:188

On July 18, 2017, the General Office of the State Council issued the "Implementation Plan for Prohibiting the Entry of Foreign Waste into the Promotion of Solid Waste Import Management System Reform Implementation Plan" and proposed that China ban the import of foreign waste such as waste plastics from December 31, 2018. This ban has a huge impact on the existing global plastic recycling system, changed the trade pattern of dumping waste from developed countries to developing countries, and has also profoundly affected the development model of China's recycled plastics industry, which has long relied on imported waste plastics. .

 

In this context, we need to comprehensively understand and predict the evolutionary trend of the global plastic recycling system, clarify China's role in this recycling system, and explore the future direction and key strategies of the development of China's recycled plastic industry.

 

 

Four characteristics of the global plastic recycling system

 

The global plastic recycling system consists of plastic production, consumption, recycling and trade. Among them, the recycling of waste plastic is the key to the formation of a global plastic recycling system. Since 1980, with the rapid growth of waste plastic production, countries have introduced plastic recycling and recycling policies. It has also become a global consensus to build a global plastic recycling system and achieve closed-loop plastic recycling. Overall, the current global plastic recycling system presents four major characteristics:

 

First, the scale of global plastics production and recycling is expanding rapidly. The global mass production and use of plastic began around 1950. As of the end of 2015, the global annual output of plastics reached 322 million tons, and the cumulative output reached 8.3 billion tons. Without a global convention or rule banning plastics, cumulative global plastics production is expected to grow to 26 billion tons in 2050. At the same time, in the context of globalization, the number of countries participating in the global plastic cycle is increasing, and the global trade network of various plastic products is becoming more and more complicated. The number of countries involved in the waste plastics trade has increased from more than 20 in 1976 to more than 120 in 2016.

 

Second, the global recycling rate of waste plastics is less than 10%. Currently, most waste plastics are not effectively recycled. According to research by American scholars: as of 2015, a total of 6.3 billion tons of waste plastics have been generated worldwide, of which 12% have been incinerated, 79% have been landfilled or abandoned to the natural environment, and only 9% have been recycled. If the recycling rate of plastics cannot be improved, it is estimated that by 2050, 12 billion tons of waste plastics will be landfilled, incinerated or discarded into the natural environment, which may cause serious marine, atmospheric and soil pollution.

 

Third, the recycling of plastics has both positive and negative effects. The recycling of waste plastics can bring the dual benefits of resources and the environment. On the one hand, the recycling of waste plastics can reduce the consumption of petroleum or bio-based raw materials and bring about resource conservation benefits; on the other hand, it is similar to the use of petroleum to produce primary plastics. In comparison, the use of waste plastics to produce recycled plastics has the environmental benefits of reducing energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions. However, due to the backward management level and technological process, various regional environmental impacts and health risks may also occur in the process of plastic recycling, which will bring tremendous pressure to the natural ecological environment and human health in some countries and regions. Therefore, we need to make a dialectical and comprehensive analysis of the costs and benefits of the recycled plastics industry from multiple perspectives: we must not only emphasize the effects of resource conservation and carbon emission reduction, but also not only see the negative impacts it causes in certain regions.

 

Finally, the global trade pattern of waste plastics is rapidly changing. Since 1977, the global volume of waste plastics trade has been increasing. From 1992 to 2016, the total export volume of waste plastics in all countries in the world increased from 910,000 tons to 15.59 million tons. In this trading system, the roles of different countries are different, and the important characteristics of a large number of waste plastic exports from developed countries to developing countries are generally presented. For a single country, its role in the global trade pattern is closely related to the degree of its economic development. For example, Japan was a major importer of waste plastics before 2000, but with rapid economic development, it has now become a major exporter of waste plastics. China used to be the undisputed global waste plastics consumption base, but it may experience a similar turn. After China's ban is promulgated, waste plastics from developed countries may be further transferred to developing countries such as India, Southeast Asia, and Africa, and the global plastic recycling system will face major adjustments.

 

 

China's Strategy to Cope with the Global Plastic Recycling System Reform

 

China is an important participant and builder of the global plastic recycling system. Due to its large, mature and complete plastic recycling industry system, China has played a key role in the global plastic recycling system. With the export volume being essentially zero, from 1987 to 2017, China imported 170 million tons of waste plastics, accounting for 72% of the world's total exports. Along with the flow of pollutants brought by the import and export of waste plastics, China has largely undertaken the transfer of environmental pollution from developed countries, especially in areas such as Qingyuan, Guangdong, which have devoted huge ecological environment and people to the waste plastics in developed countries Health costs.

 

At the same time, we must see that the growth of China s domestic waste plastic production may become a new challenge for the global plastic recycling system. In recent years, with the rapid development of the takeaway and express delivery industries, more and more plastic waste has been produced in China. However, due to the inadequate waste classification and recycling system in China, a large amount of plastic has been discarded. What is worth looking forward to is that the recovery rate of domestic waste plastics is increasing year by year. The recycling value of waste plastics in 2018 is as high as 119 billion yuan, which has accelerated the localization of waste plastics sources in China to a certain extent. At the same time, Chinese enterprises are also actively integrating into the world's large plastic recycling system, accelerating the transfer of industries and technologies to plastic source countries and trade undertaking countries, and making positive contributions to the global plastic cycle in new ways.

 

Waste plastic is an important renewable resource with high recycling value, but it will also bring certain environmental problems in the process of recycling and utilization. At present, the recycling of plastics has become a global consensus. How to balance the dual attributes of resources and the environment has become an important challenge in building a new global plastic recycling system. Under this great change, China is recommended to respond in the following five aspects:

 

First, we must actively participate in the construction of a global plastic recycling system. It is necessary to establish a sound grade and value list of waste plastic products, and unswervingly prohibit the import of low-value and poor-quality waste plastics. After the implementation of the ban in 2018, the global waste plastics trade pattern has changed. Recycling plastics companies that have relied heavily on imports for a long time can consider cooperating with overseas regions to improve the level of technology and management while transferring some industries and technologies. Construction and waste plastics The source and the overseas recycled plastic production base linked by China's plastic consumer market form a global plastic circular economy system.

 

Second, we must improve and upgrade the domestic waste plastic recycling system. In order to build a domestic waste plastics recycling system and fill the shortage of resources in the plastics industry in China, we should develop a front-end development of an intelligent management system to achieve a management model of "producer processing, buyer return, consumer collection"; vigorously promote the knowledge of waste classification, Achieve the correct placement of plastics; combine the Internet + recyclingmethod to build a recycling system with environmental deposits with Chinese characteristics; develop a corresponding system to improve the recycling system, and implement an intensive and systematic recycling method.

 

Third, we must establish a monitoring system for the flow of recycled plastics and pollution. The recycling of waste plastics requires the cooperation of front-end collection and back-end processing and recycling enterprises. However, most of the waste plastics are currently flowing into informal recycling and recycling enterprises, which is likely to cause serious environmental impact. In order to promote the intensive and clean development of the recycled plastics industry, it is necessary to improve the production chain of the enterprise, establish an information supervision and flow system, and give priority to supporting the development of formal resource recycling enterprises from the resource acquisition link; rely on the flow to the supervision system to realize the recycling of waste plastics And centralized control and reduction of pollutants.

 

Fourth, we must improve the technology and environmental protection of the plastics industry. To improve the level of science and technology in the entire plastics industry chain, it is recommended that in the production and processing of plastics, products that do not have recycling value be prolonged to reduce the amount of waste; in the application link, recycling is recommended to promote the use of related recycled materials and products. Find suitable end-use application approaches; carry out scientific design in the consumption link and promote the use of biodegradable materials; develop chemical recovery technology in the waste treatment link, recycle as much as possible in the polymer state, and promote plastic recycling and high-value utilization.

 

Fifth, we must build a plastic big data platform. Localization of waste plastic recycling has gradually become an important way to maintain the normal operation of Chinese enterprises. However, because the data of different types of plastics are not convenient for statistics and management. Relevant departments should establish a plastic big data platform by integrating data from various parties: quantify and dynamically track the source and destination of plastic in society with the help of material flow analysis methods, and clarify the quantity, structure and spatial distribution of plastic production and consumption; Cycle assessment method to study the environmental impacts of plastics throughout the life cycle, to find out solutions to optimize the ecological environmental risks and benefits of recycled plastics; to build a waste plastics emission inventory in China, to clarify the ecological and environmental benefits and contributions of waste plastics recycling, and to promote plastics in China The green and sustainable development of the industry enhances the international voice of China's plastics industry.

 

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