If You Don’t Know, Now You Know – Asian Nations Reject Western Trash | The Daily Show

If You Don’t Know, Now You Know – Asian Nations Reject Western Trash | The Daily Show


When you think of recycling, you probably think
of a magical process where you throw your plastic
in the blue bin, and a unicorn takes it away,
and then nine months later you get a beautiful
new baby water bottle. -(laughter)
-But the truth is, much like making an actual baby,
the recycling process is much messier
than what you may believe. NEWSWOMAN: When most of us
put out our recycling on trash day,
recyclers sort through it, bundle it up and ship it
overseas to be recycled. For decades, much of that waste
was sold to China. NEWSMAN: America’s main export
to China by volume was trash: recycled metal,
cardboard and plastic. For decades,
China’s been a global dustbin, taking huge quantities of
our rubbish and recycling it. NEWSWOMAN:
The relationship was symbiotic. China would ship goods
to the U.S. The U.S. would use
the empty ships to send China recycling. China would then use
the recycling to make new goods
to ship to the U.S., and the cycle continued. Yep. From China to America and then back to China
and then to America again. Basically, it’s…
♪ The circle of trash ♪ ♪ Paper, plastic into paper,
ah, paper ♪ ♪ Plastic into paper ♪ ♪ Ah, paper,
plastic into paper. ♪ (applause) Yeah. Believe it or not,
America creates so much trash that it’s had to send it
over to China to be recycled. Which isn’t really surprising
when you think about it. Like, nobody is better
at creating unnecessary trash than America.
I mean, this is the same country where you can buy orange slices
in a plastic container. Yeah. As if there wasn’t already
a container for orange slices -called an orange.
-(laughter) It’s in the container. And for a very long time,
the relationship worked. Right? America sent China
its recycling. China turned it into
fake Louis Vuitton bags. But then… just like your ex, after a while China decided
it was sick of taking trash. NEWSWOMAN:
By 2012, China was receiving nearly half
of all the recycling that Americans
shipped out of the country. A lot of those materials
could not be recycled. They were ending up
in landfills, the environment or, worse,
taking a human toll. Now the country is trying
to clean up its image. In January,
China stopped taking most of the dirty recycling
it called “foreign garbage,” which means some
seven million tons of plastic needs to be recycled elsewhere. Yep. You see, back when China
was a poorer country, they were fine with sorting
through America’s recycling. But now that they’re more rich
and more powerful, they’ve decided that
that’s beneath them. Which is understandable, right? You start making some money,
you upgrade your life. It’s like when you get
a big promotion, you know, so you start buying the super
soft toilet paper, yeah, instead of using napkins
you stole from Burger King. You know what I mean. You know when you
lay them together and you make sure
the corners overlap– We’ve all done that, come on. So with China no longer taking
America’s plastic, all the recycling has had
to find somewhere else to go. And for a while, there were
a lot of countries in Asia that were willing to take it, in fact, they were happy
to take it. TV REPORTER: This used to be
mostly paddy fields, but rubbish,
which has been dumped here for almost 40 years,
dominates the landscape. Villagers here don’t mind. In fact, they welcome it. Like many others,
Giman makes a living from sorting through
the waste. TRANSLATOR:
This used to be a poor area. I couldn’t even afford
to go to school. But with this trash, I could put my three children
through school. My oldest is getting a PhD. (audience reacts) That’s insane, right? Like, that is… one of
the craziest things ever. This guy managed to get his kids
a degree from trash, which is ironic, because
that trash probably contained a few actual degrees. And his story
wasn’t the only one. Many people around Asia
were making money by sorting through America’s
recycling, all right, which isn’t a great job, but, for many people,
it changed their lives. But as we said earlier,
America uses a lot of plastic. And after China closed
its doors, many of these smaller countries
couldn’t handle the volume of plastic recycling that was coming into
their country. It turned it from a blessing
into a curse, which is always the case
with plastic, let’s be honest, right? Whether it’s plastic recycling
or plastic surgery, a little bit is okay. Yeah? Yeah.
But if you do too much, you look like you’re
always watching the end of an M. Night Shyamalan movie. Just like, “What?
They’re allergic to water?!” (laughter) So, just like China, all these
other countries have decided that they’ve had enough
of Western trash. “We don’t want
your recyclable trash,” that is the message
from Cambodia. That country just sent back
83 shipping containers filled with 1,600 tons
of plastic waste back to the U.S. and Canada,
saying, “Cambodia is not a dustbin where foreign countries
can dispose of waste.” TV REPORTER: Countries like
the Philippines say it’s Western waste
littering their shores, sent to poorer countries
instead of being recycled. TV REPORTER: The president
of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte even made it
very clear to Canada that the trash was not welcome,
to send it back to Canada. -Your garbage is, uh,
-On the way. on, uh, on-on the way. Prepare a grand reception. Eat it if you want to. (laughter) Oh, wow! -Wow.
-(cheers and applause) Rodrigo Duterte
does not mess around. Prepare a grand reception
for your trash and eat it if you want to? It’s a slam, but it’s such
a weirdly formal way to tell someone
to shove it up their ass. Like… No. Like, I’d love
to hear Duterte deliver a “yo mama” joke. He’s just like, “Your mother
has overindulged so much “that the government
recently bestowed upon her her own area code. Slam.” (laughter) So, Cambodia, Malaysia,
Philippines, China, all of them
have come together to say, it is time for America’s trash
to go home. In other words:
send it back. Send it back. So, now, the trash is headed
back here to the U.S. And you might be saying,
“Well, fine, Trevor, We’ll just have
to recycle it ourselves.” Well, unfortunately,
it’s not that easy. TV REPORTER:
So what happens now to the plastic we used
to ship to China? Not much. A lot of it’s just piling up
here in the states. A lot of plastic comes
to recyclers like Bagaria all mixed together, impossible to separate
cost-effectively. Cities across the country
are now reexamining whether their recycling programs
are going to waste. TV REPORTER: Is it better
for people to recycle wrong or not at all? It’s better for people
not to recycle at all. It sounds crazy, but you have
to put it in context. Okay, when it comes
to, like, tin cans, like all of that stuff,
you can still recycle it. But when it comes to plastic,
incorrect recycling is worse than no recycling
at all. And even though you might think,
“No, I recycle correctly,” that chances are
that you’re not. Like, we all think
we’re recycling when we put a plastic bottle in
the little blue plastic bin. But what we’re actually
supposed to be doing is taking the lid off
the bottle, and then you’re supposed to take
that little ring off that’s under the lid
of every single bottle. Yeah. Yeah.
Oh, and if you get takeout, you can’t just throw that
in the bin and call it a day, even just rinsing it off
isn’t good enough. You’re supposed to wash that
thing, like, make it clean, like, cleaner than Mike Pence’s
browser history. Just everything. Yeah, his shit is–
Are you kidding? He’s like,
“I won’t even type ‘Google,’ ’cause it sounds like
a sex thing.” (laughter) And now– I know,
when I say these things, you might be thinking,
“Dude, I love this planet, but those plastic rings,
that’s too much.” Well, then there’s one
other thing we could be doing, and that is using less plastic, which I know is hard, because
we’ve all gotten used to it. Like, I’m obsessed with it,
we all use it, it’s convenient. But we’re gonna need to try. I’ve actually thought
of a few solutions for all of us, you know. Yeah, no. Instead
of plastic plates, I was thinking
we can just use our iPads. Okay? Think about it. It’s flat, it’s big,
and as an added bonus, when you watch Netflix
during dinner, you don’t even
have to look up, yeah. You can just be like,
“Oh, no. They killed Eleven. “Ah! Oh, no,
that’s-that’s just Bolognese. Mmm. Oh, yeah, she’s fine.” Working it for everything. Yeah. As for all those
delivery containers that you get
from, like, Postmates, now, that’s something
you don’t need. Just have the delivery guy
put all your food in his mouth, and then he feeds it to you
like a baby bird when he arrives. You’ll be helping the planet, and you’ll make
a really close friend. Yeah. So, the next time, the next time you plan on
tossing out a piece of plastic that you used for, like,
a total of three seconds, just remember
that pretty soon that plastic may be headed back your way. So if you don’t know,
now you know.

Only registered users can comment.

  1. Some country do proper recycling. In japan for instance, we do separate bottle cap, ring, etc.
    But not everything can we do it ourself, like if you want to throw your electronics appliances, they too need to be separated to the smallest component. Not everyone can do it, but we have 3rd party service that we can use. They will separate the component for us.
    Also, if you don't properly recycling, the landlord / building owner / even trashman will sent the trash back to your place.

  2. This is part of each and every Americans life and is hardly ever talked about. Good piece. 1:25 about the orange is so insanely true. Insane.

  3. holy smokes the coment section is a mixture of american self hatred and moral grandstanding. Funny how Trevor lets asian countries completely of the hook. These countries dump the trash in the rivers and oceans, but apearently we in the west are responsible for that because we trusted them in properly recycling our trash. If anything, we handle trash the best. In my country, the Neterlands, we also deal with the trash of brazil and other south american countries. Countries where trash is piled up next to the street. But go ahead, blame us some more.

  4. It's the American way! Live without consequences. That's how u get ahead. Steal the land, use other humans to build the land…..and then destroy the land with unnatural products. Problem is EVERYTHING has consequences. The chickens are coming home to roost!

  5. Posting a similar comment from someone else: Why don't we just use them to build a wall that trump wants? Just compress them even further to durability and then add… idk treated plywood to box it in? You now have building blocks, a couple of thick nails and we have a cheap source of building material. Although it might not last long, we have plenty of trash to go around anyway.

  6. China refused to recycle US trash after Trump increased the border taxes and they returned the containers… It's been going on since 2018.

  7. Single use items like bottles can be dealt with via deposit-return systems.
    In Germany, when you buy something in a single-use bottle, it costs 25 cents more than the actual price.
    If you return the bottle (nearly every store has a reverse-vending machine for that purpose), you get the 25 cents back.
    Pretty simple, but very effective system.

  8. Manufacturers make a profit off our purchases and no choice to avoid plastic at the beginning. But then, the recycle industry wants us to clean and remove parts and do all the work for them?? Do your job to earn your money.

  9. Neither side needs to be demonized or despised. Our "product" (recycleables) is low quality (dirty/mixed with trash) and it's supply has become too great. Both sides need to change a lot in order to re-establish a working system. Either we invest in producing higher quality recyclables to sell, or we invest in expanding domestic waste management/recycling capabilities to do the job ourselves. But in the interim, and beyond, we surely need to reduce our waste burden and find viable alternatives. Innovative leadership is required from businesses and govt, and not only telling consumers to buy less plastic. Companies have begun wrapping fruit and vegetables in plastic. Who the heck needs their bananas in a plastic bag?

  10. So all those pictures with messy Asian coasts with plastic that American media displays to make itsels look good is from America.

  11. Dude, use this platform to actually suggest some good alternatives. This shit is serious. Good job on the awareness but few suggestions might really help.

  12. I invented a Recycling Device that requires about $2.5 Million Dollars to pay for Engineering, I do not have the money to pay for the engineering, I called few organization for support they all want to steel my invention Idea, also I even called King County Washington Waste Manager and he met me at a StarBux and his goal was to steel my Idea…..So I will die with my fucking Idea first before I let some mother fucker fuck me again, I been fucked by One of the Best Corporation in the World called IBM, IBM stole my Fraud Prevention Idea and that did it for been fucked by mother fuckers, Hey take a look at your fucking ATM, it is using my fucking Fraud Prevention System in the Background that is owned by fucking IBM or Lockheed Martin

  13. Trevor you and that trash guy are wrong. I just watched how it's made polyester and they just grind it up and the caps float and the bottles sink. Grinding also released the excess fluid, and they washed the material. I don't have to do all that. This deserve a clarification.

  14. Ask CNN's Anderson Cooper's mom…Robin Williams, Anthony Bourdain, John McCain and others. These aren't Big Game persons?

  15. Great, the communists are finally showing their true colours. Once America defeats communist china and puts it back in it's place, we should dump all our trash there to punish those filthy, disgusting communist peasants

  16. those countries are pretty daring to face up to america.. thats fine, i'll clap for those losers, until america starts carpet bombing their filthy streets, after which, i shall start laughing

  17. how about making plastic bricks? plastic can be compressed too. I'd like to create a trash can that automatically melts plastic into shapes.

  18. This is the real reason Seattle and New York are banning plastic. It's not to "save the world" its bc we don't have anywhere left to to put it. Smh America we should've been doing something years ago rather than turn third world countries into our landfill. Truth is most of the recycling we sent over wasn't even recyclable that's why they stopped taking it

  19. So, while America (because of Trump) is watering down its environmental laws and backing out of the international climate Accord, China is stepping up its environmental legislation . Widdle Donnie ! ! !
    Take back your trash. You can process it at Mar a Lago.

  20. Next idea : first make any plastic that is NOT recyclable should be illegal to make or use in the USA.
    🤔 THAT would be MAGA 🇺🇸

  21. I wonder about Germany and the Eu, and their recycling efficiency. I remember when I went to Germany one summer as a student, my host family said they would have been fined if they put the wrong color plastic in the wrong bin, or mixed their 4s and 6s.

  22. Trevor, I love you bro, but how about giving us some actual advice and not making it a joke. I understand it's a comedy but I actually watch your show instead of the news. This topic is a very serious one, and it would be nice to get a straight answer on how to reduce plastics.

  23. I’m fine with recycling, but refuse to use shitty paper straws. I’m sure the environment can handle a couple plastic ones

  24. Jokes aside, every time your lazy ass orders something online (especially grocery) – just stop! Grab your ass, put it in your car and drive to the store. And don't forget to take some bags with you to use in store, I'm sure you have a drawer full of plastic bags somewhere. ALSO, every time you're about to have a coffee-to-go, stop! Just spare some 3-5 min and drink a delicious coffee in a ceramic cup, in house. You've about to spend 5 min in traffic anyways, but with a plasti-taste-cold-coffee you won't even notice the taste of. AND STOP USING STUPID STRAWS! You have an impact on our planet EVRY DAY. Think!

  25. I'm Korean-American, and whenever I go back to Korea I'm always amazed because their residents actually recycle properly from the very first place into something like 7 different waste containers.

    Communities have closed circuit cameras in the recycling area and either charge small fines or scold people who get caught recycling wrong.
    They've also recently passed a law that requires all cafes and restaurants to serve in actual dishes and mugs. Disposables only allowed for takeout and even then, mostly made of paper.

    Yes, individuals should limit use of plastic and be educated on how to properly recycle, but the government should really be regulating the use of disposables and create laws to save the environment.

  26. When a country that just got nuked does a better job recycling than a country that just became one of the most powerful you know something's wrong.

  27. I mean in China, or Shanghai at least, the recycling rules got super strict since July. There are people around trash cans just to check if you're recycling correctly. And if you're not, you get a 200 RMB penalty every time.

  28. Oh my… I've gotta learn how to use less. I've been trying to buy more cardboard container stuff then plastic. That's better right? I think about this when I go to the store. Is this packaging being overly wasteful? I think we should go to more of a system where we can buy groceries by putting them into our own containers and bringing them home rather then always throwing away packaging.

  29. Seriously the US needs to get its shit together. It is looking like a third world country with all that thrash

  30. Ah, the cycle of Capitalism, where a man can get wealthy selling 20 lb bags of Cow Shit in three labels. One black and white says cow manure- $2. The green/gold bag says Organic earth Friendly Manure @$3. BUT….the red/white/blue-star/stripes bag sells at $4.50. Oh, the ease of fleece. For the credits to crime compliance, green paper, Hogville flourishes.

  31. Cost effectively…the problem. Greed. Made up money's manipulated value. Slave's wages. Hmmm….wizards of Wall Street…you make MONEY and Mortgages disappear…work with us wankers…..how about this ? 6' piles of plastic make for standard U.S. Corporate CEO's and sell cheap. Just sayin'

  32. Hi Trevooor. I'm from the Philippines, I'm a big fan of yours and I'm in awe that you featured President Duterte (am a fan of him tooooo) Seeing 2 people I adore in one image melts my heart. I want you to knooow how you make me happyyyy.
    Please notice meee 🙁

  33. Hello DSTN, checking on your reports. Did you think about how the upset of the garbage being sent back is time on a ship and how often will it be. The biggest country would have more but would they drive it all out to that end to go and ship it. When it 'returns' as trash should we build another 5th Hawaiian land. And, can you do a program on this as a what happened? Elle for spam in a can

  34. because we have a president who does not play childish games. ASIAN COUNTRIES, ESPECIALLY ASEAN REGION COUNTRIES ARE NOT YOUR LANDFILL! #Duterte

  35. We need more actual recycling here. Build recycling plants powered by solar and wind energy in the midwest and give the proceed dividends to the poorest cities hit the hardest with lost jobs.

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