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.

97 thoughts on “If You Don’t Know, Now You Know – Asian Nations Reject Western Trash | The Daily Show”

  1. They couldn't handle the influx of White Claws. That's the real issue here. 21-30 year old white frat boys and basic white girls.

  2. New start up USA chemical companies are getting into recycling and have found ways to recycle about 80-90% of plastics even if they're mixed and dirty. If anything, China accepting our recyclables has reduced demand for proper recycling processes. Hopefully some of these new recycling companies can expand or sell the tech.

  3. The crazy thing is that plastic hasn’t even been in circulation 80 years ago. All of the history of mankind. We did it without. There must’ve been a way to deal with things before, no? And instead within a few decades we’ve left trash for thousands of years because we want to buy prepackaged sliced cheese. Heck every time I see people put their apples in a plastic bag in the supermarket I just wanna shake them!

  4. Please highlight the companies that send our trash. It's not the government. I hope you name these companies in the next few days. They aren't bad- they had a market- They got money to recycle from gov't funds and they made more selling abroad- smart. The buyers should stop buying and not complain. If its no longer a deal- does it come from an uprising of workers or a much higher source?

  5. if so care your country. Recycle at your motherland.. that's simple! USA alway complaining. actually USA are illuminator

  6. Wait dawg what do we do with the caps and the rings on plastic bottles do we recycle those too or are those supposed to go in the trash bin

  7. meanwhile theres a (small) town in japan that recycles their waste in 40+ different ways https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OS9uhASKyjA

  8. Nice of you to do some educational videos Trevor but I doubt the average American has the IQ to understand recycling…..It’s very capitalist to not solve for recycling the way USA never built a good public transport system to favour Detroit. Now there is no choice. Clean your own shit. Maybe send it to the moon on the next manned Mission. The next giant HEAP for mankind

  9. you're not mentioning a very veryyy important point. those countries are sending it back because canada and usa is hiding non recyclable trash within the shipments !!!

  10. It feels like you are saying that we should no recycle but we should make the effort to do it correctly!!! And of course use less plastic!!

  11. Your momma's so fat she capped out at level 60 because she couldn't fit through the dark portal! I'll see myself out.

  12. Well I say stop sending forgien aid. Take that money and invest it in research for scientific solutions to the problem. Also let those people handle their own blood thirsty dictators. When they die on mass with their human rights violations and civil wars. Too bad.

  13. "Basically… 🎶It's the circle of trash ! Paper, plastic into paper ! Ah, paper plastic into paper ! Ah, paper, plastic into paper ! 🎶"

    I'm DEAD. 😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂

  14. in the Twin Cities area, they've recently increased the cost of garbage service and also taken several clearly recyclable items off of the recycling list because they're overwhelmed by the volume increase over the past few years

  15. Wow…i had NO clue about the severity of THIS situation. So…these "zero-waste" initiatives are MOST LIKELY going to be our ONLY solution. Hmmm? 🤔

  16. Damn, we really fucked ourselves on this one. If anyone has a plan is like to hear it. There's no such thing as a perfect plan but a shitty plan is better than no plan at all

  17. proper recycling could be done quite easly- see how much time westerners pend on youtube, do some plastic recycling while you watchin the youtube or tv shows- and wola problem solved

  18. My city is getting rid of its recycling program because people can’t do it correctly. The primitive smoke-blowing trucks they used to pick it all up with were pretty ironic when you think about it too.
    We do have a recycling center where it is more enforced to properly recycle (fees of improper dumping, more specific bins, cameras watching the place) which I think is a better step than city-wide recycling programs where people post pictures of the trucks pulling away with the hashtag #savingtheearth

  19. We recycle our plastic…plus I buy glass when I can or aluminum cans for drinks. But most plastics can be recycled along with all paper products

  20. We never want your trash so far but you fake environment lover always try to ship that to us in many concealing ways

  21. lots of things are not mentioned here. the reason asian countries, including mine ( indonesia) rejecting those trash is that those trash are not supposed to be sent here ( toxic and hazardous materials that needs special kind of recycling or dump). I'm just trying to keep it straight.

  22. Recycle is the THIRD R.. First we gotta REDUCE, when we have done that, we move to the second one: REUSE what you couldn't reduce, and only then we RECYCLE. Don't skip steps.

  23. Wow I didn't even know that we weren't truly recycling and it was being shipped to other countries. I really don't have any words to wrap my head around that

  24. I know he has writers but every time this South African comments on America I can't help but think… Lots of fancy words from a guy that comes from a mess of a country.

  25. wouldnt separating those things create jobs by the corporations that re-use them and make shit loads of money off of reselling what they sold us in the first place or an even better solution the countries we're dumping it on get those jobs and be able to do more than just send your kids to school like maybe a family vacation to somewhere they're not dumping trash on you

  26. Problem is Asia puts literally billions of pounds of it in the ocean. Japan and China specifically. But America needs to follows Seoul's and Tokyo's protocols with regard to dispensing trash. Another question is how is proper recycling not placed on all media and imposed like those places

  27. Our recycling goes to a trash to steam plant in Lee County Florida. Plastic has a high BTU value even with the little blue ring cap.

  28. I'm pissed…i have cans and bottles all over the place. I have always recycled. In my city this is how the homeless eat everyday…by recycling. There has been an increase in panhandling and crime will skyrocket soon!!!!

  29. Stop buying shit sodas if youre an adult and dont ever buy water in disposable plastic bottles. Buy one good bottle and a filter. How hard can this be? Also make other changes where you can regarding plastic use

  30. FUCK AMERICA and their people, they don't care about anything but their own guns, idiots and anything "MURICAN". TRUMP the idiot screwed over the farmers, truckers and vets, the immigrants who were trying to have a better live. He violated simple human rights, exposed innocent children to unneeded trauma and is a fucking liar. He loves all authoritarians, think russia, china, brazil really, wtf….Your prison and justice system is fucking broken especially now with trumpy dumpy. He pardons anyone who agrees with him. To top it of he ended the nuclear deal, stepped out of the Paris agreement and dumped the UN. You have a country that has a literal epidemic of gun violence and mass shootings and guess what, it is not video games or the movies. If you fucking idiots still don't want to see that your second amendment is not working in your favor, you deserve every death that is in your nation of nitwits. It's kinda harsh and really sad I say this, but it's really true. I really don't like the way your nation has been setting a terrible example for the rest of the world. You know what's really funny, it's called an amendment for a reason. So you can actually amend it, it's not a right, it's a fucking amendment. Why the fuck would the rest of the world care about a fucked up nations that does absolutely nothing for the rest of the world. You MURICANS need to wake up to the sad reality the rest of the world is trying to cope and deal with. May God bless the souls of the rare few that actually get it in your nation.

  31. 1:29 The problem with this example is that some disabled people rely on pre-peeled fruits in easily opened containers. Not everyone has the dexterity or hand strength to peel an orange themselves.

  32. They should just put a tax on plastic, it works that's what happened in South Africa now people think twice before using plastic products carelessly

  33. go eat your garbage western shits what do you think in asian continent trash fucking idiot,dumb white,dictator,conqueror,retarded,racist,spoiled brats,what do you expect to this white people nothing just disrespectful,disgraceful craps,Western countrys is starting to sink down there economy is collapsing thats the cosequence of your recent activities slaughtering half of human race just to sustain your economic development take that as karma,maybe sooner or later Asians might retaliate and thats the end of western self proclaim superior brainwashing.

  34. im not shocked when westerns especially americunts trying to turn the situation incriminating other countrys instead of there dark activities,destroying other countrys image for us to pivot our attention to those not worth to blame.

  35. Aughhh this is why zero waste is a thing, but the people who pull it off are darn near superhuman. 🤷‍♀️ 🤔

  36. Trevor you know the truth I know the risk but this must be done. Tell them the truth about the Moors the true indigenous people of America. Not the United State. Our brothers and sisters need to know who they are here in North Central South America. A great man never consider himself when it comes to the truth. If you don't know do your research on the Moors. you have the whole world in your hand. so do the right thing. This is a special request no more lies the truth must prevail and it will With or Without You the universe have a mysterious way and doing and fulfilling its destiny. the only way to let our people know the truth is to expose the private. Which is why they say you can't mix the public with the private

  37. @7:06…lol i dont through away those take out containers…honestly, it the lid didn't break, just toss it in the dishwasher and reuse it >;)

  38. Hemp plastic is just as cost effective and biodegradable. If more manufacturers switch to hemp plastic then we can start solving the problem of the excessive amount of petroleum based plastic we have to recycle.

  39. This is the result of Trumps trade war.
    Quite frankly, I see this as a positive in a forward thinking way:
    If we are forced to process our own rubbish, this could lead to better packing and manufacturing processes.
    Teumps trade war might be good for our environment and people.

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