Why would the United States be exporting its waste?

On any given day, the average American generates approximately 4.6 pounds of trash, with less than a quarter of it able to be recycled. (Garbage, 2011) Thus, as the population of our nation continues to grow, the amount of trash that is accumulated will begin to increase as well. Over the years the United States has come up with varying plans concerning the disposal of such trash, including burning it, burying it, etc., but none of these proved to be a long-term fix. (Allen, 2010) However, the current trend that the United States has employed is via trade agreement with China. In this agreement, China has agreed to buy much of the paper waste and scrap metal from the United States for approximately $8 billion dollars. China then utilizes our waste to develop various equipment for their own use, but also sells us back much of our waste in the form of computers, cellular phones, and various other electronic devices to the tune of $50 billion. (Number one export, 2010) A whopping difference of $42 billion that the United States is losing on each transaction!


Despite the fact that the United States is losing a considerable amount of money with each export of garbage, the trade agreement is considered somewhat successful because it eliminates the ever-growing waste problem that our country faces, as well as providing a top-notch electronic base for American consumers. Thus, for all of the trash that Americans generate on any given day, the more money the Chinese make, and the more money that the United States loses. While there is such an ever increasing lack of space across the country, there has to be a better way for us to manage our waste, yet still import/create high end electronic products. Perhaps the most convoluted part of this transaction is that American electronics are made overseas because labor is cheaper, rather than paying the average American worker to perform the same task. So, essentially we are sending our trash and labor overseas so that we don’t have to pay higher wages to Americans for the same services.


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