Most Countries, Except U.S. Agree to Stop Dumping Plastic Waste In Poor Nations

The United Nations has announced a new worldwide deal which will drastically reduce the amount of plastic dumped in third world countries.

On Friday, a legally-binding agreement was made between 187 countries to amend the Basel Convention, to make global trade in plastic waste more transparent and better regulated, while also ensuring that its management is safer for human health and the environment.

The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal was formed in 1992, with Australia an original signatory.

Under current rules, countries can export contaminated and toxic waste to developing countries through private entities.

ndonesian scavengers collect plastic materials at a dumpsite in Marelan, Medan, North Sumatra Province, Indonesia. Photo: AAP

But under the new deal, countries will have to be given consent by other nations to dump contaminated and toxic plastic there.

The most notable opposition to the agreement was the U.S., with attendees dismissing the proposal did not understand the effect it would have on the plastic waste trade.

As the U.S. is not a party to the Basel Convention it did not have a vote, but it will still be legally bound to the ruling.

After China banned imports of plastic waste in 2018, developing countries (particularly those in Southeast Asia) recieved a huge influx of waste from other countries, the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives said.

A boy collecting plastic waste to sell navigates water made black by industrial pollution on the Citarum river outside Bandung, Java, Indonesia. Photo: Getty

“This is a crucial first step towards stopping the use of developing countries as a dumping ground for the world’s plastic waste, especially those coming from rich nations," said Von Hernandez, Global Coordinator, Break Free from Plastic.

READ MORE: Plastic Has Reached Remote Parts Of The Antarctic

READ MORE: By 2050 There Will Be More Plastic In Our Oceans Than Fish

Rolph Payet executive secretary at U.N. Environment for the Basel, Rotterdam & Stockholm Conventions, said the ruling will have a "significant" impact on ocean pollution.

"Pollution from plastic waste, acknowledged as a major environmental problem of global concern, has reached epidemic proportions with an estimated 100 million tonnes of plastic now found in the oceans, 80-90 percent of which comes from land-based sources,” Payet said in a statement.

IMAGE: Getty

Almost one million people signed a petition urging the Basel Convention parties to take action, with Paul Rose believing changing public opinion influenced the decision.

“It was those iconic images of the dead albatross chicks on the Pacific Islands with their stomachs open and all recognizable plastic items inside it, and most recently, it’s been when we discovered the nano-particles do cross the blood-brain barrier, and we were able to prove that plastic is in us,” Rose,  expedition leader for the National Geographic Pristine Seas Expeditions, said.

The agreement will take a year to come into effect, with signatory countries not wanting to delay on saving the environment from plastic waste.

With Reuters.