Why the world’s recycling system stopped working

Leslie Hook and John Reed OCTOBER 24, 2018

As Robert Reed examines a mountain of trash piled three storeys high, a thin white plastic bag catches his eye. He fishes it out and holds it up. “That is a problem plastic,” he says gravely. “These get stuck in the machines, and there is no market for them.” He gives it a little wave and lets it float back down on to the heap.

 Bantar Gebang landfill dump, near Jakarta © Kadir van Lohuizen/NOOR

Bantar Gebang landfill dump, near Jakarta © Kadir van Lohuizen/NOOR