UN Chemical Negotiations Limit Toxic Plastic Waste Exports and Ban Toxic PFOA, but Fail Yet Again to Take Action on Multiple Toxic Chemicals

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Geneva, Switzerland — Today, the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions concluded, with some major steps taken by parties to control the trade and management of certain toxic chemicals:

Basel Convention: Countries Take Major Step to Control Plastic Waste Dumping, Stop Major Loophole for Electronic Waste

(*) Today, 187 countries took a major step forward in curbing the plastic waste crisis by adding plastic to the Basel Convention, a treaty that controls the movement of hazardous waste from one country to another. The amendments, originally proposed by Norway, require exporters to obtain the consent of receiving countries before shipping most contaminated, mixed, or unrecyclable plastic waste, providing an important tool for countries in the Global South to stop the dumping of unwanted plastic waste into their country. The decision reflects a growing recognition around the world of the toxic impacts of plastic and the plastic waste trade.

(*) Because the US is not a party to the Convention, the amendments adopted today also act as an export ban on unsorted, unclean, or contaminated plastic waste for the US towards developing countries who are parties to the Convention and not part of the OECD. The amendment will have a similar effect for the EU, a party to the Convention, whose own internal legislation bans exports of waste included under the Convention to developing countries.

(*) “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,” says David Azoulay, Environmental Health Director at the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL). “Plastic pollution in general and plastic waste in particular remain a major threat to people and the planet, but we are encouraged by the decision of the Basel Convention as we look to the future bold decisions that will be needed to tackle plastic pollution at its roots, starting with reducing production.”


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