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New UN Rules To Tackle Plastic Waste Dumped On Poorer Countries

“International convention to stop richer countries exporting contaminated material for recycling could mean a cleaner ocean in five years”

“New international rules to tackle the “wild west” global trade in plastic, which has seen wealthy nations dump contaminated plastic waste on to poorer ones, will result in a cleaner ocean within five years, according to a UN transboundary waste chief.

The rules, which come into force on 1 January, aim to make the trade more transparent in order to allow developing nations such as Vietnam and Malaysia to refuse low-quality, difficult-to-recycle waste before it is even shipped.

“It is my optimistic view that, in five years, we will see results,” said Rolph Payet, the executive director of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions. “People on the frontline are going to be telling us whether there is a decrease of plastic in the ocean. I don’t see that happening in the next two to three years, but on the horizon of five years. This amendment is just the beginning.”

At the moment, developing countries – many of which have recycling industries that take in shipments from other nations – cannot see whether a given shipment of plastic is actually recyclable or if it is too contaminated to use before it arrives.”

Karen McVeigh reports for the Guardian December 29, 2020.