That NAFTA Trash

Everything from new cars to computers to fresh fruit swells the free-trade flow along the United States-Mexico border. But one item of cross-border commerce that probably deserves more notice is that most basic byproduct of North American prosperity: trash.

Mexicans are rapidly picking up the slack left by a declining Asian market for US recyclables. Plants in Mexicali and Monterrey, Mexico, gobble up everything from glass beverage bottles to waste paper to plastic throwaways to mineral-rich dust from US steelmaking furnaces.

The flow defies exact measure. But The Wall Street Journal recently reported that last year Mexico imported between $500 million and $1 billion in trash from its northern neighbor. Mexico's waste-paper intake, for example, has nearly doubled since NAFTA began in 1993, to well over 1 million tons yearly.

New bottles, packing materials, and even sorted high-quality plastic scrap then flows back northward. It's hardly NAFTA's mainstream. But it is an example of freer trade serving both societies - and helping, not threatening, the environment.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
QR Code to That NAFTA Trash
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today