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Wholesalers & Distributors

China’s Takeout Business Has a Problem

Food industry responsible for 1.6 million tons of domestic packaging waste in 2017

The Lempert Report

The New York Times reports that the astronomical growth of food delivery apps in China is flooding the country with takeout containers, utensils and bags. 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.

Scientists estimate that the online takeout business in China was responsible for 1.6 million tons of packaging waste in 2017, a ninefold jump from two years before. That includes 1.2 million tons of plastic containers, 175,000 tons of disposable chopsticks, 164,000 tons of plastic bags and 44,000 tons of plastic spoons. 

While it is true that people in China still generate less plastic waste per capita than Americans, 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. That's a problem for us all.

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