2017 saw some progress in recycling, both in the United States as well as abroad. In France, the government became the first to prohibit food waste in supermarkets. Supermarkets are now forced to donate unsold produce to local food banks. Not only does this benefit those in need of food and reinforce the institutions that are currently trying to benefit the needy, it will also cause the supermarkets to restructure themselves to reduce waste. By curtailing food waste, France may also reduce a hidden environmental expense of food, that being the environmental cost of shipping. In the United States, cities and states are implementing new regulations to encourage greater engagement in recycling. While there is much to do, progress is apparent.
Changes in Chinese Regulations
Throughout most of the first world, there is a considerable issue in regards to recycling and waste management. Many nations, including the United States, export a great deal of their trash overseas to be processed. China is the top destination for waste, but recent changes in their regulations regarding the import of foreign garbage will be affecting the status quo. According to an article by The Independent, China imported 7.3 metric tonnes of garbage from other countries such as Japan, the US, and the UK. China has announced that they will no longer accept 24 different kinds of recyclables and waste. This move will almost certainly have a huge impact on the amount of trash being imported into China. Nations that were previously reliant on China to handle their trash will now have to find other methods to handle their surplus recyclables and waste.
Opportunities in Recycling
David Rachelson of Rubicon Global believes that considerable opportunity awaits entrepreneurs in the waste management and recycling industries. Rachelson also expressed excitement in the improving usage of technology and data informatics in the industry. As new technologies are being applied to waste management and recycling, opportunities for improvement are presenting themselves.
According to the EPA, Americans are recycling more than ever. In 1990, only 16% of American households were reported as recycling, whereas in 2010 that number had more than doubled to 34%. Americans are increasingly interested in recycling in their personal lives, as well as pushing for their communities to encourage greater participation.
To learn more about what you and your household can do to recycle, check out the EPA's resources regarding recycling. If you're interested in composting specifically, check out this blog we wrote about it.