Basel Convention Plastic Waste Controls begin January 1

On Jan. 1, 2021, it will be illegal for 187 countries, parties to the Basel Convention, to receive a variety of plastics from the United States. Plastic was officially added to the Basel Convention in 2019.

From the Basel Action Network's (BAN) Dec. 10 press release, "US Set to Become the World's Biggest Criminal Trafficker in Plastic Waste":
"These plastic wastes that are routinely collected from American households by cities and their waste haulers and just as routinely shipped to developing countries around the world have been newly listed in the Basel Convention to be subject to international control. And, with less than a month to go before this trade from the US becomes what Interpol will consider illegal trafficking in waste, neither the US federal government nor state governments appear to have a plan to comply with the new rules. Rather, in recent weeks, US companies and municipalities, far from tapering off to meet the January 1 deadline, have increased their exports to developing countries where the recycling that does take place is highly polluting and much of the imported plastic bags and food containers don't get recycled at all, but are simply dumped and burned.

"The grand American strategy to combat plastic waste appears to be to export as much of it as possible," said Jim Puckett, Executive Director of BAN. "This country is the biggest source of the global plastic crisis and our big solution is simply to push the problem onto our global neighbors that have even less technology to properly deal with it."

According to the CBC, the US and Canada "quietly signed a bilateral agreement" that could allow them "to evade some of its obligations to stop shipping plastic waste to poor countries around the world."