La crisis mundial del reciclaje muestra que Occidente no puede usar a los países más pobres como vertederos

India ha seguido el liderazgo de China y ha prohibido las importaciones de residuos plásticos sólidos en un esfuerzo por enfrentar su propia crisis ambiental, pero la medida se ha sumado a una creciente crisis mundial de reciclaje y plásticos.

Hace un año, el gobierno chino implementó su política de 'Espada nacional', que detuvo el flujo masivo de residuos plásticos reciclables de los países occidentales. Las importaciones de plástico a China disminuyeron un 99 por ciento en el primer año desde que entró en vigor la nueva restricción a la importación.

Hasta la prohibición china, EE. UU., Reino Unido, Alemania y Japón se encontraban entre los mayores exportadores de plástico a China. Las nuevas reglas los obligaron a buscar en otros lugares para enviar sus plásticos reciclables. Las exportaciones del Reino Unido a Malasia casi se triplicaron, mientras que las exportaciones a Tailandia fueron 50 veces mayores. Estados Unidos es el mayor exportador de plástico a Malasia, enviando 195,444 toneladas entre enero y julio de 2018.

Pero las prohibiciones de China e India han demostrado que la exportación de residuos plásticos es insostenible, y Tailandia y Malasia también han anunciado prohibiciones, ya que no quieren continuar como el vertedero de residuos plásticos del mundo. Si bien la solución del problema a corto plazo para los países occidentales ha sido encontrar mercados alternativos, la solución a largo plazo, en palabras del secretario de medioambiente del Reino Unido, Michael Gove, es "dejar de deslocalizar nuestra tierra".

Los desarrollos actuales en el campo de la eliminación de plásticos pueden poner a las naciones desarrolladas en un aprieto, cree Yoichi Shimatsu, un periodista ambiental y un ex profesor de la Universidad Tsinghua. Los desechos plásticos tienden a tener un tremendo efecto adverso en la salud humana, advirtió.

© Global Look Press / Grant Falvey

"Los compuestos orgánicos a base de carbono ... actúan como disruptores hormonales, que interfieren especialmente con los sistemas endocrinos y los órganos reproductivos femeninos, y causan trastornos complicados y defectos de nacimiento" , explicó, y agregó, sin embargo, que la eliminación adecuada de los desechos plásticos requiere un alto costo. Tecnología de incineración de plasma.

Esto haría que el costo de la eliminación de plástico, que actualmente se despacha simplemente a otro lado, sea "prohibitivo". Sin embargo, a medida que un número creciente de países prohíben las importaciones de residuos de plástico, el mundo desarrollado podría quedarse sin otra alternativa que lidiar con ello en casa. . También hay otros aspectos de este problema.

El uso de los países en desarrollo como vertederos de residuos occidentales es "inmoral, poco ético e injusto", dijo a RT la activista ambiental Vandana Shiva.

"Nunca debió introducirse el plástico en las economías. Teníamos productos locales y frescos en todas partes. El plástico y la economía de combustibles fósiles que lo respaldaban eran un puñado de industrias que se beneficiaban, y luego hicieron que todos fueran adictos al plástico y una cultura desechable". , " Dijo Shiva.

En los EE. UU., La Asociación Nacional de Residuos y Reciclaje (NWRA, por sus siglas en inglés) solicitó recientemente al Presidente Donald Trump que suspenda la prohibición de China como parte de las conversaciones comerciales con el gobierno chino, criticando lo que denominó "restricciones poco realistas a los materiales reciclables importados" y dijo que la prohibición podría Conduce a la pérdida de miles de puestos de trabajo.

Residuos de plástico acumulados fuera de una fábrica de reciclaje ilegal en Malasia © Reuters / Lai Seng Sin

Pero no es tan simple.

Si bien los occidentales separan diligentemente sus papeles y plásticos, creyendo que serán reciclados adecuadamente en tierras lejanas, muy a menudo ese no es el caso. Una investigación de Greenpeace el año pasado encontró que gran parte de los residuos enviados a Malasia para reciclar no se reciclan en absoluto, sino que se queman (lo que aumenta la contaminación del aire) o simplemente se tiran. Los países a los que Occidente está enviando sus residuos están tan abrumados por ella, que ha provocado crisis de salud pública y ambiental de las que poco se ha oído hablar.

"El propio sistema internacional de comercio de residuos está roto y se basa en suposiciones falsas sobre lo que realmente sucede con el desperdicio", dijo Heng Kiah Chun, activista de Greenpeace, a Eco-Business.

El reciclaje puede estar muy bien, si los sistemas implementados funcionan, pero los problemas reales, dicen los expertos, son la sobreproducción de plástico en general. Los gobiernos de todo el mundo se han estado moviendo para reducir la producción de plástico innecesario.

Además de prohibir las importaciones de residuos plásticos, India estableció un objetivo para eliminar los plásticos de un solo uso para el año 2022. La UE acordó prohibir algunos plásticos de un solo uso, como platos desechables, cubiertos, popotes, bastoncillos de algodón de plástico y agitadores de bebidas el año pasado. En un esfuerzo por combatir la contaminación marina. Un enorme 60 por ciento de los 25,8 millones de toneladas métricas de residuos plásticos que se producen en la UE cada año proviene de envases, muchos de los cuales finalmente se envían para ser tratados en algún lugar de Asia.

Pero los pequeños pasos en esta dirección no son suficientes, argumentan los activistas. Shiva dijo que el plástico es solo "un síntoma de una crisis ecológica" que va de la mano con el hecho de que los sistemas alimentarios locales y sostenibles han sido "destruidos".

“Si promueves comida local donde hay un mercado de agricultores, y yo voy con mi bolsa de tela y recojo los vegetales para la semana, no habrá plástico y habrá mejor comida, y habrá menos enfermedades, y habrá Habrá menos cambio climático ” , dijo.

Eventualmente, el plástico podría convertirse literalmente en un problema para todos en la tierra, aunque una vez fue aclamado como un avance científico, advirtió Shimatsu.

El plástico se parece cada vez más a uno de esos milagros científicos de la posguerra, como la energía nuclear, con un inconveniente mucho peor que cualquier beneficio.

 

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