It is estimated that in 2060, the plastic waste generated worldwide will triple to 155-265 million tons per year, and most of these plastic wastes will be buried, incinerated or flow into the ocean, bringing great pressure on the ecological environment.
In the face of such shocking plastic pollution, China has continuously paid more attention to limiting the production and use of plastics in recent years. This year, the announcement on matters related to the total prohibition of the import of solid waste, the 14th five year plan for the development of circular economy and other major national policies were intensively issued, directly pointing to the problem of controlling plastic pollution. Recently, the action plan for plastic pollution control in the 14th five year plan issued by the national development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of ecological environment has officially launched the national starting gun for plastic pollution control in the next five years.
The plan points out that the key to the treatment of plastic pollution is to strengthen the recycling of plastic waste. However, in 2020, China will produce about 60 million tons of waste plastics, 21 million tons of landfill and 22 million tons of incineration, while the recovery is only about 16 million tons, and the overall recovery rate of waste plastics is only 26.7%.
Then, under the continuous policy overweight, can China's plastic recycling industry walk out of an environmentally friendly recycling road?
Plastic recycling is still a problem after ten years of plastic restriction
（1） Lack of waste plastic recycling facilities
In recent years, with the implementation of waste classification, most communities and commercial facilities are equipped with corresponding classified garbage cans as required. The treatment of kitchen waste and other waste is relatively good, but the treatment of recyclables is uneven. Although there are door-to-door recycling services, sometimes there are not many waste plastics. Personal door-to-door recycling wastes manpower. At this time, the recycling facilities of recyclable materials are very important.
If we start from the back-end waste plastic recycling system and recycling links, and fully do the classified recycling work at the front-end recycling, we can fundamentally improve the proportion of recycling and reduce the production of waste plastics. However, at present, the intelligent collection technology of plastic waste in China is still limited to specific areas and specific waste plastic varieties, and the local collection and classification level is only low, and there is a lack of classified storage, transportation equipment and intelligent pretreatment and sorting equipment for many kinds of waste plastic products. Therefore, strict waste classification and plastic collection methods will improve the recycling rate of plastics.
（2） Low value waste plastics are rejected
In fact, in reality, most of the plastic wastes we come into contact with are low-value waste plastics, such as fast food boxes, express packaging materials, waste sponges produced by motor vehicle disassembly, etc. These low value waste plastics are difficult to be effectively recycled by relying solely on market regulation. They can regain their recycling value only after large-scale recycling and centralized treatment. However, the recycling rate of low value waste plastics is generally low and has been facing recycling problems due to limited profit space, difficult recycling, disordered market operation and insufficient supporting incentive and restraint policies. Therefore, most low value waste plastics are mixed with other wastes for incineration or landfill treatment, resulting in a waste of resources.
In addition, low value waste plastics lack policy guidance. Low value-added waste plastics are affected by factors such as large fluctuation of recycling price, high recycling logistics cost and unstable resource utilization channels. It is difficult to collect all accounts receivable, which directly affects the recycling rate.
（3） Scavengers cause confusion in the market environment
Due to the imperfection of China's waste plastic recycling system, the market wool recycling is still dominated by the recycling of individual recyclers, and the main body of raw material supply is still dominated by small family workshops. This recycling model is more traditional and inefficient, with many disadvantages, such as relying too much on manpower, extensive recycling and sorting, and difficult to ensure the quality and quantity of recycled materials. In the waste recycling market, a large number of waste pickers will be able to use recyclable waste plastics for recycling, and then sort, package and sell them to informal renewable resources enterprises.
In this process, due to the lack of correct way for the storage of recycled waste products, it is easy to breed bacteria and cause infectious diseases. What's more, there are potential fire safety hazards, which is not conducive to the life safety of surrounding residents; However, family workshop enterprises are prone to secondary waste and secondary pollution in the process of treatment, which reduces the utilization rate of waste products and pollutes the environment; Moreover, some waste products may flow back to the market through primary processing, affecting the normal order of the market.
China's promotion of new waste plastic recycling industry, new business state and new model
（1） Specification for recycling of low value waste plastics
Some professionals have pointed out that "according to the forecast, if the collection, transportation and treatment of low value recyclables are carried out smoothly, 'other wastes' will be reduced by 20% to 30%." Therefore, we should pay attention to the value of low value waste plastics, improve the recycling rate of low value waste plastics, strengthen the recycling management of low value waste plastics, and improve the recycling network of low value waste plastics.
At present, for the problem that low-value waste plastics are difficult to enter the recycling channel, domestic places such as Shanghai and Guangzhou have actively explored. For example, Shanghai has issued the plan for the implementation of the Shanghai recyclable system, which requires that the main responsibility of the territorial Government for subsidizing recyclable materials be clearly implemented; Special fund subsidies shall be given to low value recyclables.
The comprehensive law enforcement bureau of Guangzhou urban management issued the measures of Guangzhou Municipality for the administration of purchasing low value recyclable materials recycling and treatment services, encouraging enterprises to participate in the recycling and treatment of low value recyclable materials and promoting the reduction and recycling of domestic waste.
The action plan for plastic pollution control in the 14th five year plan also proposes to encourage e-commerce platforms (including takeout platforms), express enterprises to carry out multi-party cooperation with environmental sanitation units and recycling enterprises, and strengthen the standardized recycling of plastic wastes such as express packaging and takeout lunch boxes.
（2） Improve waste plastic recycling facilities and equipment
The more detailed the front-end classification is, the more convenient the back-end processing is, and the more valuable the recyclables are. The premise of effective recycling of waste plastics is the classified delivery and collection of recyclables. In recent years, the Internet, big data, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, blockchain and other technologies have accelerated innovation, increasingly integrated into the whole process of various fields of economic and social development, promoted the deep integration of digital technology and renewable resource recovery industry, and become a key force in preventing waste plastic pollution and realizing the reuse of waste plastic materials and energy.
In foreign countries, Germany and Japan recycle plastic bottles by putting in plastic bottle recycling machines, and citizens can get corresponding points by putting in plastic bottles; In recent years, China has also encouraged renewable resources recycling enterprises to use "Internet plus recycling" and intelligent recycling to enhance the convenience of recyclable items and the sale.
Recently, the Shanghai Municipal People's government has revised the management measures of Shanghai's renewable resources recycling, adding one of them: encouraging enterprises to adopt "Internet plus recycling" and putting in intelligent recycling machines and other technologies and ways, so as to realize the organic combination of renewable resources recycling online and offline, and promote convenient ways of delivery. Recyclable recyclable recycling network and the two network convergence guidance of Xi'an's municipal waste collection and transportation network are also pointed out. We should promote Internet plus recovery, and set up intelligent recyclable bin for the pilot to replace the traditional recyclable bin.
Therefore, we should promote the integrated development of digital technology and waste plastic recycling industry, grasp the direction of digitization, networking and intelligence, promote industrial digitization, use new Internet technology to transform the waste plastic recycling industry in an all-round and all chain way, and improve the recovery rate of plastic waste. We should promote the "integration of two networks" between urban renewable resource recycling outlets and domestic waste classification, accelerate the construction of new waste plastic recycling facilities, strengthen strategic layout, and build intelligent, agile, green, low-carbon, safe and controllable waste plastic recycling facilities.
（3） Build an enterprise above the standard for recycling waste plastics
As a leader in the development of green economy, circular economy and environmental protection industry, recycled plastics industry should continue to cultivate in the direction of green, clean and sustainable development. Therefore, we should comprehensively promote industrialization and large-scale application, promote the deep integration of the Internet, big data and artificial intelligence with the waste plastic recycling industry, accelerate the cultivation of a number of "industrialized and large-scale" enterprises, and promote the expansion and strengthening of the waste plastic recycling industry; We should standardize the development of waste plastic recycling enterprises, strengthen the correction and rectification of small and scattered enterprises and illegal acts, and prevent secondary pollution.
The action plan for plastic pollution control in the 14th five year plan proposes to support the construction of plastic waste recycling projects, publish the list of standardized enterprises for comprehensive utilization of waste plastics, guide relevant projects to gather in parks such as resource recycling base and industrial resource comprehensive utilization base, and promote the large-scale, standardized and clean development of plastic waste recycling industry.