Wealth from Waste? Chinese Investments and Technology Transfer in the Tanzanian Plastic Recycling Industry

Image: Flickr, Ian Burt
Image: Flickr, Ian Burt

The history of recycling is almost as long as that of industrialization. Many developed countries, including the US and Japan, have benefited from the cross-border waste trade and recycling activities during their early stages of industrialization.

Since the 1990s, China has emerged as the center of the global waste trade and recycling industry, importing and reprocessing millions of tons of all kinds of waste materials every year. In recent years, due to rising costs of labor and environmental compliance in China’s recycling industry, Chinese investors have been exploring the recycling industry in Africa. Chinese plastic factories have developed two lines of business, serving both the Chinese and African markets, with a variety of products. This research examines the potential of knowledge transfer from Chinese investments in the Tanzanian plastic recycling industry to the local economy. It also assesses how the recent regulatory change in China, that is, the imposition of an import ban on waste materials since 2018, has affected plastic recycling and reprocessing industries in Tanzania.

1 Jan 2019