The noodles and barbecue arrive within 30 minutes. The containers they come in could be around for hundreds of years thereafter.

In all likelihood, the enduring physical legacy of China's internet boom will not be the glass-and-steel office complexes or the fancy apartments for tech elites.

It will be the plastic.

The astronomical growth of food delivery apps in China is flooding the country with takeout containers, utensils and bags. And the country's patchy recycling system isn't keeping up. The vast majority of this plastic ends up discarded, buried or burned with the rest of the trash, researchers and recyclers

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