As the world continues to drown in plastic pollution, more nations around the world are taking notice. Just this last Friday, almost all of the world’s countries agreed on a deal to restrict shipments of hard-to-recycle plastic to poorer countries according to an announcement by the United Nations.
While the news is most welcome to hear, there remains an outlying surprise, the US failed to agree to the deal. Even without the agreement, they are still held to the same new rules that was agreed upon and every exporting country will now have to get consent from countries receiving contaminated, mixed or unrecyclable plastic waste.
In the current system, the US and other countries send lower-quality plastic waste to private entities in developing countries without first getting approval from their country. Sending this plastic has caused major problems since last year when China has stopped accepting recycling from the US and other countries, resulting in waste piling up in these developing nations.
The Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (Gaia), a backer of the deal, says it found villages in Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia that had “turned into dumpsites over the course of a year”.
“We were finding that there was waste from the US that was just piled up in villages throughout these countries that had once been primarily agricultural communities,” said Claire Arkin, a spokeswoman for Gaia.
The deal occurred during a two-week meeting of a UN-backed convention on plastic waste and toxic chemicals. The agreements comes in an amendment to the Basel convention which the US is not apart of. Due to this, they did not have a vote a vote but reports from the convention stated that the United States argued against the much needed law-abiding pact, arguing that officials didn’t understand the repercussions it would have on the plastic waste trade.
Plastic continues to wreck havoc on the world as daily reports reveeal the devastating impact plastic has on wildlife and the environment. Currently there is an estimated 15-51 trillion pieces of plastic already estimated to be in the ocean today, that number will only grow at a rapid pace in the future. By 2050, plastic pollution is estimated to outweigh all fish in the ocean..
The agreements was signed by 187 countries and countries will now have to monitor where plastic waste goes when it leaves their borders.
Officials pointed towards growing public awareness and the push from citizens of the world as imagery and documentaries has revealed just how damning plastic is.
“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,” said Paul Rose, expedition leader for the National Geographic “pristine seas” expeditions, aimed at protecting the oceans.
The new rules are expected to be implemented next year.