However, the United States under the administration of US President Donald Trump will not participate in the move to add mixed plastic to the Basel Convention, the treaty that regulates the transfer of hazardous materials between borders.
Under the 1989 treaty, exporters must receive consent from governments before shipping contaminated, mixed and unrecyclable plastic waste. According to the United Nations, over 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic have been produced worldwide since the early 1950s. About 60 percent of all plastic ends up in the environment or in landfill. An estimated minimum of 8 million tonnes of plastic finds itself in the world's ocean on an annual basis, according to reports.
In 2018, Germany, the US and Japan each exported over 2 billion pounds of plastic waste to Southeast Asian countries for disposal.
As a result of Trump's trade war between Washington and Beijing, China stopped all imports of plastic scrap in 2017. According to a study published in 2018 in the journal Science Advances, "an estimated 111 million metric tons of plastic waste will be displaced with the new Chinese policy by 2030."
"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," observed Rolph Payet of the United Nations Environment Program, cited by ABC, referring to the decision to update the treaty to include plastic. "Countries have decided to do something which will translate into real action on the ground," he added.
However, despite the fact that the US did not ratify the proposal by Norway to restrict plastics exports to less developed countries, its trade with countries will be affected by the deal.
"That would prevent the US from sending — it would only allow the US to export plastic waste that is already sorted, cleaned and ready for recycling," David Azoulay of the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) told Reuters Friday.
"Which is exactly the type of waste they don't send around because it has value," he added.