Nearly every country in the world has agreed to monitor and limit the amount of plastic waste shipped beyond their national borders in a bid to curb pollution brought on by the material — but the United States was not one of them.
Rolph Payet of the United Nations Environment Program said the “historic” accord earned the approval of 186 nations at the end of two weeks of meetings, aimed at curbing plastic waste as well as other toxic and hazardous chemicals and products.
The legally binding framework, which has not been approved by the United States, requires nations to track thousands of different types of plastic and control the amount of plastic waste moving in and out of the country.
Essentially, most mixes of plastic will require consent from the receiving country before they can be shipped. That means countries such as the United States will still be affected by the resolution, particularly when it attempts to trade with nations that have signed onto the deal.
It will additionally impact a broad range of industries, including health care, fashion, technology and food, and how they will package and ship products in the future.
The new initiative, spearheaded by officials in Norway, has been added to the Basel Convention — a treaty aimed at managing the movement of hazardous material between countries.
“It’s sending a very strong political signal to the rest of the world — to the private sector, to the consumer market — that we need to do something. Countries have decided do something which will translate into real action on the ground,” he said, praising the nations for using “an existing international instrument to put those measures in place.”
The World Wildlife Federation in a tweet praised the new measure as a “step in the right direction to” end plastic pollution.
“For too long, wealthy countries have used the developing world as a dumping ground for plastic waste. With the capacity to process this waste not in place, it is time for regulation and behavioral change to stop spreading plastic pollution across the globe,” the WWF said.
“We urgently need a legally binding agreement to stop Plastic Pollution.”