The United Nations has agreed to amend the Basel Convention in order to make global trade in plastic waste better regulated and more transparent. 180 member states have signed the agreement that will drastically reduce the amount of plastic waste that gets washed into the world’s rivers and oceans.
This agreement will clamp down on shipments of plastic waste to poorer countries that do not have the required waste management facilities to process the refuse adequately. It will also ensure that the management of plastic waste is safer for human health and the environment.
What the plastic waste amendments mean
The agreement to amend the Basel Convention was reached after a two-week meeting of the Conference of Parties (COPs) in Geneva, Switzerland. The 1400 heads of state and representatives in attendance agreed to update the 1989 Basel Convention in order to include plastic refuse in the control of hazardous waste framework.
“Plastic waste is acknowledged as one of the world’s most pressing environmental issues, and the fact that this week close to one million people around the world signed a petition urging Basel Convention Parties to take action here in Geneva at the COPs is a sign that public awareness and desire for action is high,” says the UN Environment’s Executive Secretary of the three conventions, Rolph Payet.
Worldwide agreement to reduce plastic waste
“Pollution from plastic waste, acknowledged as a major environmental problem of global concern, has reached epidemic proportions with an estimated 100 million tons of plastic now found in the oceans; 80-90% of which comes from land-based sources,” explains Payet.
The COPs summit also established a new Partnership on Plastic Waste that will encourage governments, businesses, civil societies and experts to assist in implementing the new measures included in the amendment.
These organisations and academics will work together to create a set of practical supports, including tools, best practices and financial aid for the new agreement. If all 180 nations follow through with their amendments, then plastic waste in our oceans will be minimised in the coming years.
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