If you live in the so-called Western world, chances are some of the plastic waste you have produced has been shipped off to private waste-handling companies in the developing world. That’s a problem, mainly because these companies can’t handle the millions of tons of plastic waste that get sent over to them, which means the waste ends up getting dumped onto villages or winds up polluting our oceans. To combat this growing problem, more than 180 governments came together to create an agreement that requires countries to monitor the movement of plastic shipped outside their territories. The US, unfortunately, is one of the very few countries that decided not to sign on to this historic UN agreement to limit plastic pollution.
Still, the agreement addresses the problem of developed countries sending unmanageable amounts of plastic waste to private waste-handling companies in the developing world without the consent of their governments. Now, importing countries will have the ability to say yes or no to more waste. That means the decision will still impact the US since it will now have to ask permissions before sending waste to most countries. The hope is now that this will incentivize countries to find better solutions for their waste rather than sending it to other countries.