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.

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

  1. We can end recycling by a process called De-cycling. Phasing out plastic bottles that are basically one use is the first step. Recycling is a dirty process and the wages are low. Glass is the best option with a deposit, like the old days, when coke was bottled locally all over the US.

  2. How about we make the manufacturers make biodegradable plastic. You know, put the ownership with the people who MAKE the plastic. Crazy right. waits for internet trolls to come eat his plastic

  3. Are you kidding Trevor. You are such a fuckhead.
    1.3 billion people in China vs .3 billion in the USA. So who do you think have more trash? And over 2 billion in Eastern Asia, so who needs to deal with trash problems. China puts out more waste in the air and pollutes their waters more than the USA. Even India's sacred river is polluted.

  4. Yes, they ship their trashy cheap products that break and we throw them away in the trash, then the USA sends it back to China to make more Garbage Products to ship back to the USA, and endless cycle.

  5. USA recycles. I have been to the places that take plastic, and run it through machines and punch the bottles into tiny little circles and then send it back to the manufacture to mold into something else. China only recycles because they have 1.3 billion people to support and need all the resources they can get because of all the products they make. When they stop taking back stuff for recycling, they will run dry, and start having back orders.

  6. it's the industrials' responsibility to find new solutions to replace the plastic with eco friendly solutions right away..if they don't take that responsibility then the government should impose them to stop using plastic…if neither of them do anything then it's us the citizens who have to vote by not buying any more of the plastic stuff… for example, by buying water filters so we don't buy bottle water anymore or not buy food that is pre packed in plastic , etc… ( easier said than done though … i know it not easy to try to live plastic free in a plastic world )

  7. I would be ok with going back to sorting our recyclables like we did when we were kids…if it helps make collection and recycling better…
    Hell the plastic cap and ring thing would just be part of the sorting work.

  8. Buy some reusable tote bags to use for your groceries, etc. That way you don’t use plastic bags every time you go to the store.

  9. it was the most stupid thing to outlaw hemp prodution…dummies and greedy people run this world…and ya'll know the saying greed kills…

  10. Massive missed opportunity – Trevor could have shown viewers chic, affordable, easy solutions to cut down on plastic waste, instead of indulging in two jokey-unrealistic solutions. Come on, Mr. Noah! I’m a fan. Up y/our game and help us all be the change we must be in today’s world.

  11. Why in Sweden we take care of our own trash. That is riddicolus..recycle and use again. Korea burns all of Their trash and then they Made a Island. Not recycle is not a option what The fuck. Thats why The oceans are dying because People dont give a fuck..

  12. Comedy is great, but the fact is that you are supposed to leave the caps on the bottles. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PPu4wYak3Dw

  13. Duterte has been In bed with and SELLING his country to China for years! The influx of chinese workers are relegating his own people to dire poverty.

  14. Ik this might sound stupid or something
    But why can't we just like shoot it all into a rocket and let it get sucked into a black hole

  15. LMAO I learned this from working at a grocery store !! … We Literally send them plastic bags that are thrown away and or used, and they RE MAKE the plastic bags and send them back to us …. Its like we can't get their machines and do it outselves and save a CRAP TON of money LOL

  16. Recycling is actually really horrible for the environment except for metal. It costs more, emits more toxic fumes, and impacts the greenhouse gases. I'm talking melting and remolding – not using it for other purposes like those pads on playgrounds. Watch the Penn and Teller episode on it- very eye opening..

  17. And this kids is why the GND was a joke. It only addressed 14% of carbon emissions worldwide with no clear solution to achieve any of the goals set forth. If you can’t get those countries to even recycle, what on earth do you think it will take to get them to cut all carbon emissions?

  18. Our recycling won't take plastic grocery bags. Apparently they tangle in the machinery and break it. Of course, we should be using reusable bags!

  19. Not to take away from this really important topic but…..I hadn’t seen all of stranger things yet. Spoiler Alert.

  20. I feel like our world shalt die soon.
    Looking at the sudden changes happening around the world due to our own selfish needs.
    Trash or whatever it is, we have to make changes it sooner or later we might face the severe punishment.

  21. So not that these tariffs are not only messing with the consumer, NOW we cant even recycle anymore? So how long will one of my jobs big blue recycle dispenser will be there? The world is really f***ed up.

  22. Theres alot of shit going already here in the Philipines. we already have a literal mountain and river of garbage here. What am saying is ,were in deep shit already so please have mercy.!😧

  23. Americans claim that it is impossible to separate the garbage cost effectively? Cost effectively?
    Do these idiots think recycling is something you are supposed to make money off?

  24. Americans technically had it coming because we are acting like we don’t care about the earth. Countries need to get their shit together. Some of Americans are smart though and live a zero waste life which I recommend as the best solution. It can be hard but it’ll but it’ll worth it if you wanna see your grandkids live a happy life without pollution.

  25. Thnk u Trevor for these message to all the people who r watching that plastic is making aur nature miserable place for. Future.

  26. Do Americans only use the plastic once? Over here most people re-use it for other purposes. Eg. If we buy from the store and they put our stuff in plastic bags…we use the plastic bags for other purposes like to collect trash, to make art, to fill 2 liter bottles with in order to make plastic bricks which can be used to build houses etc. That kind of thing. I think Japan is probably the best at recycling though. There's this one town that has a nearly perfect recycling %. They are probably as close to zero waste as you can get and they don't easily let other people come and live there etc. but most people don't want to live there either because the rules about recycling there are very strict.

  27. As a Filipino-American sophomore who’s done some research for a social studies project, I genuinely want to put my foot through Duterte’s face, but I’ll be damned if I don’t need any aloe vera after that burn. Eesh.

  28. I'm old enough to have grown up next to a glass bottling and glass recycling plant. It worked great. We got paid to return the glass. It was reused or recycled. Then sadly I witnessed it being it torn down because plastic was the new king. This was only 15 years ago. I bet those government officials feel like fools now. Wait, nope. We were just told not to recycle our glass. We are told to just throw it out! What?!? Stupidity is still rampant. Face palm.

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