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Food delivery apps drowning China in plastic


steven36

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NEW YORK: In all likelihood, the enduring physical legacy of China’s internet boom will not be the glass-and-steel office complexes or the fancy apartments for tech elites. It will be the plastic.

 

nyt paper pic

 




The astronomical growth of food delivery apps in China is flooding the country with takeout containers, utensils and bags. And the country’s patchy recycling system isn’t keeping up. The vast majority of this plastic ends up discarded, buried or burned with the rest of the trash, researchers and recyclers say.

Scientists estimate the online takeout business in China was responsible for 1.6 million tonnes of packaging waste in 2017, a ninefold jump from two years before. That includes 1.2 million tonnes of plastic containers, 175,000 tonnes of disposable chopsticks, 164,000 tonnes of plastic bags and 44,000 tonnes of plastic spoons. The total for 2018 grew to an estimated 2 million tonnes.

People in China still generate less plastic waste, per capita, than Americans. But researchers estimate that nearly three-quarters of China’s plastic waste ends up in inadequately managed landfills or out in the open, where it can easily make its way into the sea. More plastic enters the world’s oceans from China than from any other country.

Recyclers manage to return some of China’s plastic trash into usable form to feed the nation’s factories. The country recycles around a quarter of its plastic compared with less than 10% in the US.

But in China, takeout boxes do not end up recycled, by and large. They must be washed first. They weigh so little that scavengers must gather a huge number to amass enough to sell to recyclers.

For many overworked or merely lazy people in urban China, the leading takeout platforms Meituan and Ele.me are replacing cooking or eating out as the preferred means of obtaining nourishment. Delivery is so cheap, and the apps offer such generous discounts, that it is now possible to believe that ordering a single cup of coffee for delivery is a sane, reasonable thing to do.

China is home to a quarter of all plastic waste that is dumped out in the open. Scientists estimate that the Yangtze River emptied 367,000 tonnes of plastic debris into the sea in 2015, more than any other river in the world, and twice the amount carried by the Ganges in India and Bangladesh.

Takeout apps may be indirectly encouraging restaurants to use more plastic. Restaurants in China that do business through Meituan and Ele.me say they are so dependent on customer ratings that they would rather use heavier containers, or sheathe an order in an extra layer of plastic wrap, than risk a bad review because of a spill.

 

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Few points to consider/add:

 

20 minutes ago, steven36 said:

The vast majority of this plastic ends up discarded, buried or burned with the rest of the trash, researchers and recyclers say.

More burned plastic = less fuel to burn trash.

 

22 minutes ago, steven36 said:

People in China still generate less plastic waste, per capita, than Americans.

The country [China] recycles around a quarter of its plastic compared with less than 10% in the US.

Means China is doing less bad than the US.

 

23 minutes ago, steven36 said:

Scientists estimate that the Yangtze River emptied 367,000 tonnes of plastic debris into the sea in 2015, more than any other river in the world, and twice the amount carried by the Ganges in India and Bangladesh.

So much plastic debris added into the sea is indeed bad. Less plastic is less bad, but bad still.

How many people live around these rivers? What about a value per inhabitant 'linked' to these rivers?

Population in China is around 1.5billions, more or less same in India/Bangladesh, around 0.35 in the US.

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58 minutes ago, mp68terr said:

People in China still generate less plastic waste, per capita, than Americans.

 

58 minutes ago, mp68terr said:

Means China is doing less bad than the US.

Not really most plastic in the USA is buried in a landfills  and in other countries  not going in the sea . In the USA  plastic waste  is a 60 year old problem . China has been dumping more plastic in the sea  than anyone  for many years,  For 25 years   the USA sent plastic waste to China  tell  ban it in 2018 

 

Quote

The U.S., Japan and Germany are all at the top of the list when it comes to exporting their used plastic. In the U.S. alone, some 26.7 million tons were sent out of the country between 1988 and 2016.

 

Quote

For more than 25 years, many developed countries, including the U.S., have been sending massive amounts of plastic waste to China instead of recycling it on their own.

 

https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2018/06/28/623972937/china-has-refused-to-recycle-the-wests-plastics-what-now

 

The west was using China for a landfill tell last year. they spouse been recycling  other countries  plastic for 25 years  and it been going into  the sea they don't recycle  there  own much less are able to do it for others . China is sending  over tons and tons  of plastic goods to the USA  witch cost people who make it  in the USA jobs . China makes more plastic goods than any country in the world  since 2013 in return they was letting the USA  and others send the waste from it back to them .

 

So   It don't  matter how much People in China generate plastic waste  they have 25 years worth of  other nations waste there as well!  As China develops there people are catching up with the rest of the world with making there own waste like the Food app waste is  a new plastic waste problem for them.     :rolleyes:

 

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@steven36,

Those info should have been in the article. It changes a lot the story about where the plastic came from. Thanks for the details.

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