Great Scum Flood, junk trade and trash rule

Jun 2013
1. The following are excerpts from a March 25, 2018 news report headlined "American Trash Talk -- After Trade War, Now U.S. Hopes Can Still Dump ‘Garbage’ In China".

(Begin excerpts)
....In actuality, Trump’s tariffs have nothing to do with China being unfair. Instead, it has everything to do with the rising of China powerhouse – both economically and militarily – so strong and influential that the Middle Kingdom could overtake United States as the world’s new leader. So, the U.S. has no choice but to cripple China to ensure Americans’ continuous supremacy....

Amusingly, on Friday, just a day after President Donald Trump flashed his domestic rules to penalize China with tariffs on up to US$60 billion in imports, the Yankees asked the Chinese not to proceed with its ban on the import of “foreign garbage.” This time, however, the U.S. saw it fit to complain to the WTO’s Council for Trade in Goods about China’s refusal to import trash from America....

After Beijing notified the World Trade Organization last July, China started enforcing its new “National Sword” policy effective January 1, 2018 – banning 24 types of solid waste, including various plastics and unsorted mixed papers. Essentially, the Asian powerhouse is telling the world that it would no longer act as the world’s trash dump – but the U.S. isn’t happy.

The U.S. is the top producer of waste, according to the World Bank, and Americans have been doing a pretty good job at throwing stuff away. The country exported US$16.5 billion in scrap in 2016, more than any other country. Paper and plastic constituted about US$3.9 billion of that. Every day, nearly 4,000 shipping containers full of recyclables would leave U.S. ports bound for China.

Over two-thirds of America’s wastepaper exports ended up in China in 2016. Paper and plastic scrap exports to mainland China topped US$2.2 billion – more than U.S.’ exports to China of wheat, rice, corn, meat, dairy and vegetables combined. In the same year, U.S. shipped more than 16 million metric tons of scrap commodities to China worth more than US$5.6 billion.

...Based on International Solid Waste Association, 56% of global waste plastic is exported to China. Three months into the ban, the U.S. doesn’t like the idea of China going clean.

Although the U.S. claimed to recognise China’s environmental concerns, a U.S. representative complained at the WTO’s Council for Trade in Goods on Friday – “China’s import restrictions on recycled commodities have caused a fundamental disruption in global supply chains for scrap materials, directing them away from productive reuse and towards disposal.”

Heck, the U.S. even lectured China about breaching its WTO obligations, saying – “We request that China immediately halt implementation and revise these measures in a manner consistent with existing international standards for trade-in scrap materials, which provide a global framework for transparent and environmentally sound trade-in recycled commodities.”...

Can’t the Yankees look at emerging markets elsewhere such as India, Pakistan or Southeast Asia to solve their problems? They can but it would be more expensive than shipping waste to China. Sending “American garbage” to China is cheaper because they are placed on ships that would “otherwise be empty” when they return to the Middle Kingdom after delivering consumer goods.

There’s another problem. Even if third world countries are willing to become America new dumping site, they couldn’t fill China’s gigantic shoes since “processing capacity doesn’t develop overnight.” Perhaps trying to mock Trump administration, a Chinese spokesman lectured the U.S. representative at the WTO meeting about American trash issues.

The Chinese representative said it’s “only fair” that nations must individually shoulder the responsibility to dispose of their own waste in an environmentally-acceptable manner. With genius Donald Trump’s declaration of trade war with China, the Americans might need to live with what the Chinese call “yang laji (foreign garbage)”, at least for now. (End excerpts)


2. The following are excerpts from a March 26, 2018 news report headlined "US demands China reconsider ‘catastrophic’ ban on importing foreign garbage & recyclables".

(Begin excerpts)
...China is by far the biggest importer of US recyclables. Banning US junk imports will have a catastrophic impact on the US labor market and will drive up waste management costs. According to the US Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), in 2016 alone American scrap exports to China totaled $5.6 billion and provided the industry with 155,000 jobs. While the Chinese representative at the meeting in Geneva on Friday agreed to relate the US-voiced concerns to Beijing, the envoy still noted that, ultimately, individual countries are responsible for their own waste.

If the Asian giant closes off its waste management market, recycling centers across the US will be faced with a hard choice. They can either hire a much more expensive workforce which would raise prices for their services, require households to sort their own waste or be forced to use more landfills across all fifty US states... (End excerpts)


3. Very little is known that China is the world's dumping ground especially for US recycled materials. If Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart were to switch roles, he would be screaming at the top of his lungs that his "great friend" is trying to bury all his people under mountains of garbage.

If Peter Navarro were Chinese, he would write a book entitled "Death by America" about US plots to kill all Chinese by polluting and poisoning China’s environment. In the role reversal, he might even make a documentary showing a bread knife with the words “Made in USA” plunging into a map of China and animated blood runs out, trickling into the title: “Death by America.”

(a) Trump always brags that he has the upper hand in everything. For instance, he said: “I really believe they want to make a deal. The tariffs have absolutely hurt China very badly.” However, for those who know the shocking and amusing news that the US is dumping rubbish in China all this while, it is obvious that the garbage problem is America's Achilles heel in the trade war. The ban on the "illegal foreign garbage” influx into China will "absolutely hurt the US very badly". I coin the term "Great Scum Flood" for the catastrophe caused by the "great flood of trash” that will overwhelm the US sooner or later after the Chinese ban.

(b) I coin the term "junk trade" to mean "free, fair and reciprocal trade" which Trump is seeking with China and other countries. Will Trump be "free, fair and reciprocal" in accepting trash imports from other countries?

(c) I coin the term "trash rule" for the “one-sided rule of keeping one’s environment pollution-free by dumping pollutants onto others".