- Ambitious plans against “white pollution”
- South Korea: Torn between the USA and China
- New stock exchange for SMEs
- Wang Yi sets conditions for climate talks
- Tough guidelines for entertainment industry
- Confusion over ARM subsidiary
- Column: Johnny Erling on “Xi Thought” in schools and universities
The oceans are full of plastic. Images of empty bottles, brightly colored bags, white plastic forks, half-rotten diapers and masks washing up on shores are probably familiar to most. And on land, the “tide” is rising as well: Plastic packaging strewn everywhere blemishes the beauty of the cities and landscapes. And since most plastic packaging is white, this is called “white pollution”.
China has a massive problem with this – and now wants to counteract it with bioplastics. Newly planned production capacities for polylactic acid even exceed the current global production volume, as our author Christiane Kühl reports. Ambitions are high, but the probability of success is modest: the benefits of bioplastics without industrial composting are limited. And the People’s Republic still lacks the necessary facilities for this.
In our second analysis in today’s issue, we take a look at South Korea’s relationship with the USA. Plans by the US to house Afghan refugees in Asian military bases weren’t too well received in Seoul. This is fuelling the debate in South Korea about how much US presence the country is still willing to tolerate, writes Frank Sieren. A debate that is not inconvenient for China. Seoul is also beginning to look more and more towards Beijing due to the situation with North Korea.
As a particularly interesting read, I would like to recommend Johnny Erling’s column. He opened China’s new textbooks and discovered “Xi Jinping Thought”. Not only marks this a new high point in the cult of Xi’s personality, but also a signal that Xi wants to and will continue to rule China after more than ten years in office.
Have a nice weekend!
Fighting “white pollution” with bioplastics
China likes to think big, not small. And so it hardly comes as a surprise that the production of bioplastics is also being launched on a grand scale. One particular company, the chemical company BBCA Group from Bengbu, is a pioneer in this field. According to a report in the Japanese newspaper Nikkei , the company plans to massively expand its capacity for a new type of preliminary product based on corn starch or sugar cane. The BBCA plans a production volume for 2023 that will exceed what’s currently available on the entire global market. Namely, around 700,000 tons of polylactic acid (PLA) per year. The forecast for global PLA sales for 2023 is 370,000 tons, Nikkei Asia writes. “We want to show our answer to white pollution,” the newspaper quoted BBCA president Li Rongjie as saying.
“White pollution” is a term coined for the masses of discarded plastic waste that characterizes China’s suburbs, roadsides and villages. As consumption throughout the country grew, so did plastic consumption. Garbage collection, recycling management and environmental awareness have not been able to keep pace. The result is carelessly discarded food packaging, plastic bags hanging in trees, overflowing trash cans in the countryside. Only in city centers have the authorities been paying more attention to cleanliness for some years now and have put up trash cans along the pavements. Recycling is in its infancy. 40 percent of used plastics end up in landfills or as waste in public spaces. It is estimated that the country is responsible for a quarter of the world’s plastic waste in the oceans.
Per capita, however, each Chinese individual produces significantly less waste from single-use plastics than people in top-ranked countries, such as Australia (59 kilograms per year), the United States (53) and South Korea (44), according to the Australian Minderoo Foundation’s Plastic Waste Makers Index published in May. China ranks 45th (18), while Germany ranks 35th (22). China’s state-owned chemical giants Sinopec and Petrochina, however, are among global polymer manufacturers whose products generate the most waste from single-use plastics (3rd and 6th, respectively), according to complex analysis.