Exporting Boston's Plastics

By Cristina Quinn & WGBH News

May 25, 2012

BOSTON — As WGBH News reported on May 21, the Casella Waste Materials Recovery Facility in Charlestown takes in 100 tons of plastic a day. Much of that material is separated out by the type of plastic and then recycled in facilities in the U.S. However, some does get sent abroad — mostly mixed batches of plastic that aren't cost-effective to separate for recycling here. Those bales of plastic get packed into shipping containers and loaded at the Port of Boston on to the proverbial "slow boat in China."


Nearly all the plastic scrap that leaves the Port of Boston goes to China: In 2011, 11,869 tons went to that country out of a total of 12,782 tons. That makes Boston 13th in the nation for plastic scrap exports. Los Angeles tops the list with 49,486 tons exported in 2011.

Once it crosses the ocean, the plastic is processed. Most re-emerges as agricultural sheets, stools and other implements of Chinese daily life.

Data provided by Massport.

Port of Boston: Plastic Scrap Export Data

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