Global plastic waste pact garners international support

Date: 13-May-19
Author: Liam Taylor

Tracking the movement of plastic across borders has been identified as key to managing plastic waste globally. Image: Jar/CC © Jar/CC

Tracking the movement of plastic across borders has been identified as key to managing plastic waste globally. Image: Jar/CC

A historic international agreement to combat plastic waste has been approved by 187 countries in the UN. 

Following two weeks of high-level UN meetings on plastic waste and toxic materials, an overwhelming number of participating countries have agreed to track thousands of types of plastic in an effort to make global plastic trade more transparent and better regulated. The underlying aim is to ensure that the management of plastic waste around the world is safer for both the environment and human health.

The initiative was led by Norway, with delegates from the Scandinavian nation first proposing the measures in September last year. Rolph Payet of the United Nations Environment Program said the agreement put responsibility on domestic governments to monitor and track the movement of plastic waste outside their borders.

“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,” Mr Payet said in a statement.

“Countries have decided to do something which will translate into real action on the ground. There is going to be a transparent and traceable system for the export and import of plastic waste.”

The one notable exception to countries signing on to the agreement was the United States, one of the world’s biggest producers of plastic waste. According to a report from Our World In Data, in 2010 the United States produced 37.83 million tonnes of plastic waste, a number that has likely increased since.


Positive Action

  • Reduce and reuse both come before recycling on the waste hierarchy. Wherever possible, avoid or reuse plastic items before sending them to be recycled.
  • Keep trash out of our natural environment by learning where and what you can recycle using our RecyclingNearYou website service.
  • For easy recycling information, look out of the Australasian Recycling Label. It’s appearing on more products every day!


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Positive Environment News has been compiled using publicly available information. Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes.

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Liam                                              Taylor
Author: Liam Taylor

Liam is Planet Ark's Communications Coordinator. Prior to joining Planet Ark Liam spent his time studying global environmental issues, travelling Southeast Asia on the cheap and working for a sustainable property management company in Bali, Indonesia.

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