Places in some countries are quickly turning into dump sites as a result of other countries sending their plastic waste over. Now, nearly 200 countries have agreed to restrict such shipments to less wealthy countries.

Plastic Waste Shipments

Exporting countries such as the United States can send their plastic waste to developing countries through private entities even without having to get approval from the government. Ever since China stopped accepting plastic waste from the United States, there have been reports of waste from the United States piling up in various villages in countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand.

Unfortunately, these said places that are being turned into dump sites were once agricultural communities, with the change occurring in just a short period.

United Nations Agreement

Now, the United Nations announced that at the end of a two-week convention regarding plastic waste and hazardous chemicals harming sea creatures, 187 countries have agreed to restrict the shipment of hard-to-recycle plastic to developing countries. This means that should any country want to send shipments of plastic waste, they would have to get approval from the prospect recipient country’s government first, giving them the right to refuse other countries’ plastic waste.

Interestingly, while the United States was not a part of the convention and therefore did not get to vote, reports from the meeting state that the country argued against the agreement, saying that it would have repercussions on the plastic trade. As it happens, the United States is actually the world’s largest exporter of plastic waste.

Historic Agreement

The legally binding agreement is described as ”historic” because now, countries will have to monitor their waste even after it leaves their borders. Furthermore, it will help to make the plastic trade be more transparent, so as to protect the health of people as well as the environment.

Naturally, groups from all over the world recognized the agreement as a game changer that could help control the growing plastic and garbage problem.

“Today’s decision demonstrates that countries are finally catching up with the urgency and magnitude of the plastic pollution issue and shows what ambitious international leadership looks like,” said David Azoulay of the Center For International Environmental Law.

The new rules are expected to take a year to be enforced.

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