U.S. reliance on China for waste is a weak supply chain link
An unusual development occurred in Washington on Tuesday, as President Joe Biden signed a bill with solid bipartisan support.
An unusual development occurred in Washington on Tuesday, as President Joe Biden signed a bill with solid bipartisan support. What issue convinced dozens of Republicans to join with almost all of their Democratic colleagues in Congress? The need to counter China’s rising capabilities in computer chip manufacturing by pumping money into research and production of computer chips here at home.
The allocation of more than $50 billion in subsidies contained in the CHIPS and Science Act — coming at the same time House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made a controversial trip to Taiwan despite Beijing’s warnings against it — shows there is a will in Washington to scale back interdependence with China.
It is in the United States’ long-term diplomatic and economic interests to pursue greater “waste independence.”
But as the U.S. reconfigures its role in global supply chains such as this one, it is failing to consider a massive, underappreciated and yet enormously consequential global supply chain of another kind: global waste streams.
For too long, the United States has been dependent on other nations, predominantly China and emerging economies across Southeast Asia, to admit, process and manage American waste streams — particularly plastics. This dependence has acted as a crutch for a global waste trade that has reached its limits on a planet that’s warming fast.