How China Broke the World's Recycling

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Writing by Sam Denby
Research by Sam Denby and Tristan Purdy
Editing by Alexander Williard
Animation by Josh Sherrington
Sound by Graham Haerther
Thumbnail by Simon Buckmaster
Select footage courtesy the AP Archive
Musicbed SyncID:

  • why is everything about money? Money shouldn't be an issue when it comes to the planet

    Paul HaskettPaul Haskett14 րոպե առաջ
  • They were losing money, but at the same time, the refusal of plastic was also retaliation for Trump tariffs.

    Bryan HerberBryan Herber5 ժամ առաջ
  • China didn't break recycling. They were merely hiding the obvious, not-talked-about problems with recycling. if we had a media that stopped believing that big diesel trucks taking the contents of your blue-bin were magically saving the environment, we'd be able to have an honest conversation about how much damage the recycling religion has done.

    jnauttubejnauttubeՕր առաջ
  • First - US is not "the world". Second - they deflected rubbish to Indonesia. Rainforests? Bah..who needs 'em

    Yanik KunitsinYanik KunitsinՕր առաջ
  • China: *carries the worlds recycling, taking in the pollution from other countries* USA: "CHINA IS A POLLUTED HELLSCAPE AND ITS ALL THEIR FAULT GOD BLESS AMERICA" China: *Stops taking in the worlds recycling* USA: "WOW LOOK AT CHINA, IT BROKE THE SYSTEM."

    ThatguyfromAKThatguyfromAK2 օր առաջ
  • the road to hell is paved with shitty systems

    Deric Flair WHOOOtubeDeric Flair WHOOOtube2 օր առաջ
  • 18:00

    SpyDetector1984SpyDetector19842 օր առաջ
  • And what is that system that China broke? Oh the system is China cleaning up after the US. How dare China stop doing that?

    Christine YoungChristine Young2 օր առաջ
  • Constantly references Littleton, CO Only shows shots of Denver, CO

    Eben ClarkEben Clark2 օր առաջ
  • the madmanthe madman3 օր առաջ
  • if you include externalities into virgin plastic production, then recycling becomes viable, even for plastic caps

    finndofinndo4 օր առաջ
  • not that broken, there is (TDP) but "oh, crude oil from plastic, oil is bad"

    Emil Nicolaie PerhinschiEmil Nicolaie Perhinschi4 օր առաջ
  • This guy has some interesting videos. Unfortunately you need to learn. How. To. Speak. Jesus ficking christ it's annoying. Also your sponsor should drop you for your so convincing sales pitch. So you ignore emails from yahoo and Gmail because they are so easiy to create in just a few seconds but we should use hover because we could easily create an email in just a few minutes. That extra 2 minutes makes all the difference in you believing it's a real person huh? Hahha

    rha600rha6004 օր առաջ
  • 150% tax on virgin plastic? Nah... too obvious

    Rory ChiversRory Chivers4 օր առաջ
  • Very informative. Thank you!

    A Random Internet UserA Random Internet User5 օր առաջ
  • I actually disagree with you on your closing remark, while recycling in its current state is not a technical problem, inventing new ways to reduce or remove the plastic (thru whatever new things get discovered) will drive the cost down. Don't discount the huge effects that new discovers can make on the process and by consequence the economics

    hidinghiding6 օր առաջ
  • Idea: Write "Free Hong Kong" on all your yogurt containers. Edit: Just finished watching the video. Dang it.

    Matthew SchellenbergMatthew Schellenberg6 օր առաջ
  • How about using plastic waste in road construction..I read that Australians can incorporate plastic waste and blend them in bitumen..that could be a viable solution in re-using plastic

    Navid KhanNavid Khan6 օր առաջ
  • The plastic particles at 10:28 were intended to be reported by some western social medias as fake rice in China. Shame on that.

    Julio DuanJulio Duan6 օր առաջ
  • Just stop manufacturing harmful products.

    grahamlivegrahamlive6 օր առաջ
  • It’s not the world’s recycling that’s broken. It’s the world. And capitalism has broken it.

    grahamlivegrahamlive6 օր առաջ
  • Why can states built a plant to recycle rubber and plastic to make new roads or to fix streets that are full of big holes

    Joe SalgadoJoe Salgado7 օր առաջ
  • What if the government forces the worlds biggest companies like sony, Tesla, etc. to use recycled plastics and forbids using new plastics.

    Nira2003Nira20037 օր առաջ
  • Can Wendover Production please change the very bias and deceiving title? Basically this is a video about China finally decided to stop taking toxic shits from the USA to protect their own environment. The world, especially the USA as the largest plastic production of the world, needs to wake up that plastic is not "cheap" but actually the MOST expensive and deadliest thing that human has created. it is only when, not if, mass extinctions happens and all foods on earth are no longer safe to eat.

    Dande lionDande lion7 օր առաջ
  • every intelligent government would tax the oil and plastics industry and force them to finance the recycling. why are intelligent governments so difficult to come by?

    Ulrike NaumannUlrike Naumann7 օր առաջ
  • Sorry, it's a good video but clearly you deserve a dislike for misleading title. I am a bit confused if u one of those blindfolded Americans who believe they are the best nation or it was a click bait but it's dislike anyway

    Arek ZadkaArek Zadka7 օր առաջ
  • Actually I were following this, what happen was Or compounded this was small company were too careless and abuse the system by useing these container as rubbish bins also. And all the private recycle company were burning this trash. This was the time when U.S media was were calling out china pollution, they had the worst sky. Ironic, isn't it the same democrate movement help china give up on recycling . But goggle biomass wood pellets. This is wrong. They are replacing oil burning power plants for wood burning and it 3 times more pollution but European country needed it so it called carbon neutral. Now south a. Are chopping down forest as the southern states. And tree leaves are what make oxygen take in Cabon dioxide. Green energy is screwed up. Just stay with oil. Just think. All them trillion ev battery are going to be useing electric not gas. So that means hundreds of power plants need to be build. Look at how much people live in apt. And they will be charging at night.

    thomasthomas8 օր առաջ
  • It's a shame all those drink bottles and caps couldn't be made out of easily reusable and recyclable materials... Maybe someone should look into using metal and glass, or something...

    deckdriverdeckdriver8 օր առաջ
  • so basicaly, China didn't broke anything, they just exposed the cracks in the system

    Ephraïm BoatengEphraïm Boateng8 օր առաջ
  • What if we regulated all plastic to be only 1 type or a handful of profitable/highly recyclable types of plastic? Less sorting and greater efficiency. Maybe even add a tax incentive for using recycled packaging.

    KozickihKozickih8 օր առաջ
  • China should pay for all the made in china plastics that are polluting our environment.

    Ix NijgnipIx Nijgnip8 օր առաջ
  • China is the land of all fakes, including Xi Jinping!

    Ix NijgnipIx Nijgnip8 օր առաջ
  • I really doubt china cares 2 winks about the environment.

    MacbooknoMacbookno9 օր առաջ
  • The... technological solution of easier recycling or disposal of plastic *is* an economic solution, _if_ it decreases the cost of recycling. That would obviously extend the margins of profitability for more types of plastics and/or make disposal of single-use plastic less costly. Given that all of those are much more doable and less dramatic in their consequences than utterly annihilating the plastics industry by... what? Law? Taxes or penalties? Cultural change? ... I can't imagine coming to the conclusion that Da Whole System should be shut down. The durability, flexibility, moldability, and other incredible features of plastic as a material have vastly improved almost every aspect of your life, in virtually every country. No demand is static; get rid of plastic, and you will need other materials to fill its void, unless you've changed the culture and/or economics of the demand _first._ Those materials have to come from somewhere--mines, tree farms, forests, oceans, etc.--and each of those require their own environmental and health impacts. At present, virtually none of them are "zero." The only way to really kill "consumption" is to kill consumers. I don't accuse anyone here of being anti-human, anti-natalist Malthusians, but I do accuse you of loose talk that slips into absolutist modes viewing the basics of human life, or even all life as we know it, as "The Problem" or "The Enemy."

    Ricky JaegerRicky Jaeger9 օր առաջ
  • Recycling has been a lie for years. The issue isn't that China broke the recycling system it is that unscrupulous companies in China and other countries were playing this charade and most of this waste just wound up getting thrown into the ocean. Make no mistake those plastic islands in the pacific come from somewhere and plastics recycling is the source, take what little has value from the bales and dump the rest in the river....China's government was actually right to put a stop to it but it simply took too long to get to that point. The only solution is requiring the producers of the plastic to pay for the disposal, we need to reduce needless plastic packaging, we don't need to use as much plastic as we do to ensure food products stay fresh and incineration for some of this is clearly the better answer. If the cost of the waste was born by the producers, that money could be used to correctly handle the waste and the economics work in favor of reducing the use of plastic by increasing the costs. Single use plastics are a very poor idea.

    Shaun BavaShaun Bava9 օր առաջ
  • video: capitalism doesnt work title: uhhh lets try blame china

    fionnfionn9 օր առաջ
  • Doesn't really sound like this one is on China bro.

    Kay And SkittlesKay And Skittles9 օր առաջ
  • So it was actually the plastics executives that created the broken recycling problem. Capitalism at its most destructive.

    iceescapeiceescape12 օր առաջ
  • China ==> Trash

    CyberCat ZeroCyberCat Zero14 օր առաջ
  • Just put a small tax on the raw materials that create new plastic

    Shashikant PrasadShashikant Prasad14 օր առաջ
  • You _could_ say China "broke" the system by disrupting the status quo, but you could probably make a stronger case that it didn't so much break the system as it did expose the pitfalls of the current recycling system in a global context.

    ArchtansterPGArchtansterPG16 օր առաջ
  • Those bails look useful to me; for building flood barriers, sea walls, weird hole filler when they appear in streets etc.

    molly cruzmolly cruz16 օր առաջ
  • So for a long time it was : China is busy shipping products to the US but the US is constantly sending trash to China??

    Zhao JieZhao Jie17 օր առաջ
  • The Chinese: sorry everybody, from now on we are not your trash bin anymore, for less carbon outputting and air pollution.

    Zhao JieZhao Jie17 օր առաջ
  • This is why capitalism doesnt work. It's not that recycling cant be done; it's that we dont want to do it as a society because it costs us money. Companies dont want to do it either because it costs them money and they can just get away with polluting the environment. Make it expensive for companies to use plastic and make them pay for recycling it and they wont produce so much plastic waste.

    nucks2233nucks223318 օր առաջ
  • Finally someone who knows what he's talking about

    zeno 1zeno 118 օր առաջ
    • But be careful you're talking about the US and not the western world

      zeno 1zeno 118 օր առաջ
  • I'm guessing that most western nations (US, UK Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Canada) are affected by this but if it is then Wendover should have stated it. And yeah, the wording of the title seem to be bias against China...

    Rizal Elias MosqueraRizal Elias Mosquera18 օր առաջ
  • What’s going to fix recycling is increasing the oil prices, keep oil in the ground only when you have enough money to pay for it!

    Ozair Al Khair Al Awan Al HashimiOzair Al Khair Al Awan Al Hashimi18 օր առաջ
  • I remember when China was mocked and criticized for being the source of most plastic waste in the ocean. Well, they fixed that problem.

    Christian PerspectiveChristian Perspective18 օր առաջ
  • Ironic considering plastic wasnt invented to be disposable and was supposed to be an alternative to glass. Seeing as how it doesn't break down, why not make homes out of it to eliminate maintenance costs so the home lasts a few lifetimes?

    Nathan JNathan J19 օր առաջ
  • There would be another option: have the plastic manufacturers pay for the recycling of their product for each ton of virgin material they sell. We did it with batteries.

    VonTyrantVonTyrant19 օր առաջ
  • bad title

    Max LiuMax Liu19 օր առաջ
  • As plastic recycling was our family business, I think I should make some clarification from our perspective. We love American and Japanese trash, they are the cleanest you can get compared to southeast Asian and local Chinese recycled plastic. You guys can blame me on living on the "corrupted" ecosystem hold by the evil western corps/ whatever you say. But recycle plastic from a lot of developing country is straight-up, not usable / require a lot of work to learn it up and repurposed them. The China government banned foreign trash import actually affected our livelihood a bit as we need to invest extra time and effort to wash those trash clean. Our family eventually gave up on the recycling business in China because of the poor condition of the raw material, the profit from recycling local plastic is straightly non-profitable and the government is unlikely to provide any further support. * to some young people here on youtube, I may sound like a capitalist pig or vampire to you but here's a little piece of information for you, no one is going to do anything for free. When you guys are shouting for fairness/ "raising awareness" on recycling and shit. Its people like us in China or other low-end places who used this opportunity to gather up your trashes, wiping your ass because it is profitable to us. You think China government will treat their trash better than you? no, they will just dig another hole and bury everything, then cover it up. They do not bother to recycle their own shit in reality. It's all political calculation/ straight-up idiotic bureaucracy. As long as there is a topic to blame/ shit on, people will carry on their life without actually noticing there's an issue. Like how American shit on Trump/BLM, or how Chinese shit on the "westerner's fault". My opinion? you guys should all focus on what you can do, not what you can blame. Typing shit on a loose community is easy. Making actual changes in the community you are living in? That's whats matter, make changes one at a time, point out other people's wrongdoing with actual evidence. I here thanks Wendover Productions for raising awareness on this topic. As much as I would like to shit on the "raising awareness" phenomenon about Americans, this video actually fished me out, an actual shareholder who was once involved in this industry to share my opinion on this topic. Even though I am only 1/10000 comments in this video and I type too much that no one may bother to read. I hope this comment will provide some insight for a certain group of people here on youtube. P.S. This comment section is as important as the plastic bottle you threw away last week/ last month, do you even remember how many bottles you have thrown away? you don't care, you are not that righteous if you cannot remember how much plastic waste you have created last month. Soda cans, food wraps, consumer goods packagings ... rethink your life

    SHUN LAUSHUN LAU19 օր առաջ
  • The title of this video is racist, xenophobic, jingoistic and sinophobic. I am surprised at Wendover for doing that.

    Bill GreenBill Green21 օր առաջ
    • @jekyll hirsi Yes it is.

      Bill GreenBill Green19 օր առաջ
    • It is not

      jekyll hirsijekyll hirsi19 օր առաջ
  • thanks for the gentle background music

    BigSmellaBigSmella22 օր առաջ
  • How dares china not accept our trash!! Lets just send our plastic to poorer countries! Except no cause 180 countries agrees to stop doing that. Except the US did not signed that deal. So hurray. Dont blame china. The west and specialy the US is the problem. Recyclying is flawed. Stop lobbying

    Eduardo BorgesEduardo Borges23 օր առաջ
    • Have you even watched the video?

      jekyll hirsijekyll hirsi19 օր առաջ
  • Shockingly, they don't want trash in their mailbox. Dastardly third-worlders.

    Van DarkholmeVan Darkholme23 օր առաջ
  • So, like most things, the answer was capitalism/"we couldn't make enough money off of it, so we won't do it even if it costs us the earth"

    GeneralStrykerGeneralStryker25 օր առաջ
  • Last Week Tonight also made an episode about this very issue, definitely worth a watch.

    gfrewqpoiugfrewqpoiu25 օր առաջ
  • test

    hulivarhulivar25 օր առաջ
  • In the comments there are alot of seekers of a higher social credit

    Рост ЯковлевРост Яковлев25 օր առաջ
  • there's a good reason why the word "Recycle" is at the end of the phrase "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle". The best way to not make so much plastic waste is to not buy stuff with plastic in it.

    sonic ocsonic oc27 օր առաջ
    • Good luck with that. Pretty much all food stuffs are packaged in plastic.

      Jezza T.Jezza T.26 օր առաջ
  • Yeah, that’s a waste of $$. But ok. 🤦🏻‍♂️🤦🏻‍♂️

    DoorDashing CoupleDoorDashing Couple27 օր առաջ
    • How so?

  • 🔗🔗

    DoorDashing CoupleDoorDashing Couple27 օր առաջ
  • The video title is about as american as it can get -.-

    JamalyJamaly28 օր առաջ
  • This is so profoundly sad... recycling plastic is a huge lie. I feel cheated.

    Juliusz KopczewskiJuliusz Kopczewski29 օր առաջ
  • Conclusion: Ban the plastic.

    Raju ShahRaju Shah29 օր առաջ
  • Recycling was a scam to begin with. China broke the scam, not the recycling that never was a thing anyway.

    RawbeardRawbeard29 օր առաջ
  • China made all the world's trash and they should collect them

    TaroTaroԱմիս առաջ
    • ohwow, I wonder who uses them the most, grow up child, don't be so stupid

      noom 17noom 1728 օր առաջ
  • Donwnvoted due to the title being misleading.

    Cernat ȘtefanCernat ȘtefanԱմիս առաջ
  • "how china broke the worlds recycling" how i read it : how china is a #####

    Trents GamingTrents GamingԱմիս առաջ
  • A tax on new plastic will restore the system.

    C DC DԱմիս առաջ
  • fuck 1m times this guy who made such a fake tile

    Xiaobai ChenXiaobai ChenԱմիս առաջ
  • I guess a surcharge on new plastic components is the way to go. Increase the value of recycled plastic by charging a tax on the raw materials it takes to produce new plastic.

    Rob JRob JԱմիս առաջ
  • As stopping plastic usage altogether is impossible, single-use plastic price need to come up. It's the only way to push up recycling and avoid mass usage.

    Andrew KhAndrew KhԱմիս առաջ
  • The superb red unfortunately deserve because heart gradually stuff unto a jumbled marble. proud, clean grey

    Clalala TayagClalala TayagԱմիս առաջ
  • 50 cent army?

    Foolguy11 FireworksFoolguy11 FireworksԱմիս առաջ
  • “Mom! Where is my another shoe?!” Well, it is time to reply “Don’t be a baby, grow up!”

    Li JiaxingLi JiaxingԱմիս առաջ
  • Recycling, the better late than never troll.

    Clinton RauschClinton RauschԱմիս առաջ
  • This is where capitalism itself is failing. The free market is designed and honed to make goods and services, not cleaning after themselves. Like a child playing needs an overseer, that makes sure the child plays good, behaves and cleans after itself, the companies need an overseer that makes sure they do the same. This would be the state of course. This process should be paid through taxing the companies, and taxing the selling of the goods that they make. And when/if the company violates the rules of the state, the state assigns hard fees for the company or at worst violations can halt the business temporarily or even for good if the violations are repeating. The US have had an ridiculously low tax-rates especially in the industries and it is frightening to see money at an unlimited power. This system that I described is at play to some extent in some countries in europe, and it has been proven to work. It is not pure capitalism, nor pure socialism, it is somewhere in between. The free market is not designed to cope with these kinds of problems and is therefore a broken system...

    Taneli HärkönenTaneli HärkönenԱմիս առաջ
  • The west as usual create problems with their excess and blame the East..... hypocrisy at its best !!!!

    Victory VVictory VԱմիս առաջ
  • This is same goes with Styrofoam, in US and many other countries do not recycle this material simply because it is just not profitable as well.

    JimuxJimuxԱմիս առաջ
  • On what ground, it was China's obligation to solve global Recycling?

    William LynnWilliam LynnԱմիս առաջ
    • Who claims that it is?

      jekyll hirsijekyll hirsi19 օր առաջ
  • More like, China does not want your trash. Go figure it out yourself.

    Paulski YePaulski YeԱմիս առաջ
  • It was the capitalistic dream: Buy cheap products from foreign coutries, use them up and export it as trash back.

    Peter GiessingerPeter GiessingerԱմիս առաջ
  • More like fixing recycling.

    Cody ShiCody ShiԱմիս առաջ
  • 9:34 Finally, I know what one of the Top Gun famous quote meaning "Just remember, if you screw up just this much, you'll be flying a cargo plane full of rubber dog shit outta Hing Kong.""

    RobertoLee09RobertoLee09Ամիս առաջ
  • So.... recycle? Don't recycle? What's the verdict here...

    Christel VinotChristel VinotԱմիս առաջ
    • @Christel Vinot In my (non-expert) opinion, it is good, but it is not enough. We've been concentrating on only recycle when reduce and reuse are also important

      Warren LamWarren Lam22 օր առաջ
    • @Warren Lam I'm asking, so is it good to recycle or bad to recycle? People act like it's good, but then I see videos about how recycling causes more pollution and is too inefficient to work.

      Christel VinotChristel Vinot22 օր առաջ
    • Reduce, reuse, recycle. We forgot the first two but of course, many companies only say recycle

      Warren LamWarren Lam22 օր առաջ
  • Judging by the comments, this video is titled incorrectly.

    Christel VinotChristel VinotԱմիս առաջ
  • We can increase the Tax of producing new PET while Reducing tax on recycling PET to encourage companies to recycle instead. Since the value of producing new PET will be more expensive than recycling

    HeheKnightHeheKnightԱմիս առաջ
  • Great content. Everyone needs more than there basic salary to be financially secured. The best thing to do with your money is to invest. Money left in savings always end up used with no returns. I started investing in bitcoin mid November 2019 with the help of a well-known professional, Mrs Aubrey and the profits almost entirely funded my recent duplex.

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    • I saw her ports but I ignored I thought it was a fake platform, with the conversation am convinced she legit

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    • Mrs Aubrey of financial education has really made name for herself

      Eulalia D. JonesEulalia D. JonesԱմիս առաջ
    • Access to good information is what we investors needs to progress financially and generally in life. here's a good one and I am grateful.

      Sienna BrownlowsSienna BrownlowsԱմիս առաջ
  • It's a shame food and drink companies don't use bio-degradable packaging now. I know its all down to money and profits, but theres many options for degradable packaging. I reuse water bottles for as long as I can, I reuse shoe boxes, amazon and other delivery boxes. Whatever I can I'll reuse. I believe some UK waste companies burn normal waste but use the heat and smoke from it to create power which it sells back to the grid to power everything. Glad to know most of the waste it taken care of here.

    WeFlyEMAWeFlyEMAԱմիս առաջ
  • The most environmentally conscious corporations are the worst violators. Like the surfing industry produces so much toxic waste from surfboards and wetsuits and leashes and surf wax and pads and sunscreen . The hypocrisy is packaged and sold by advertisers and surf stars.

    Al Gore RhythmAl Gore RhythmԱմիս առաջ
  • bendover productions

    Ajen KandyAjen KandyԱմիս առաջ
  • The vague debt descriptively crash because protocol thermodynamically hop until a coordinated belt. auspicious, vengeful pimple

    forkofyorkforkofyorkԱմիս առաջ
  • Why doesn't the Manufacturing Industry get together with the Recycling Industry and determine which are the easiest reusable materials too Separate from our Garbage .... and only use those to make New Stuff ? .... Kind of like the beer bottle industry always reusing the same bottles again and again and again ..... If Manufacturers all use a specific glass for all Liquids .... Recycling then becomes easier and cheaper !

    robert branderrobert branderԱմիս առաջ
  • This is by far the best summary I have ever seen on this issue although I do think Wang Jilang's documentary "Plastic China" deserves a nod in the run down of why China finally shut their doors to the world's crap.

    Robin RheaumeRobin RheaumeԱմիս առաջ
  • Sort your own problems out than export them

    Mr ThriftMr ThriftԱմիս առաջ
  • UC Davis, lol.

    灰灰灰灰Ամիս առաջ
  • Now things are different, you missed one major reason why virgin plastic raw materials prices were low, it was due to US shale oil, which caused crude oil prices to its lowest level due to over supply of crude oil, since US shale went into bankruptcy, crude oil prices and virgin prices raw materials are back in pre 2018 situation. Now plastics recycling are again profitable.

    haji khalidhaji khalidԱմիս առաջ