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China is forcing the world to rethink recycling

In 2017, China banned all plastic from entering the country. This single decision has disrupted the entire global flow of recycling. Stuff that once found its way to China is now ending up in Vietnam, Thailand, and most of all, Malaysia.

But those countries can’t process the amount of plastic China used to, and waste from the US, Europe, Japan, and beyond is piling up in small mountains.

China’s ban didn’t break the system, but it revealed just how broken it really is. In episode one of our video series Because China, we go to Malaysia, Shanghai, and New Jersey to figure out what is going on in the wild world of recycling.


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