China’s plastic import ban increases prospects of environmental impact mitigation of plastic waste trade flow worldwide
Here, through the life cycle assessment (LCA) method, we quantified the environmental impacts of changes in the flow patterns and treatment methods of 6 types of plastic waste in 18 countries subsequent to the ban. In the short term, the ban significantly improved four midpoint indicators of environmental impact, albeit contributed to global warming. An annual saving of about 2.35 billion euros of eco-cost was realized, which is equivalent to 56% of plastic waste global trade value in 2017. To achieve global environmental sustainability in the long run, countries should gradually realize the transition from export to domestic management, and from landfill to recycling, which would realize eco-costs savings of about 1.54–3.20 billion euros.
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