UN adopts global treaty limiting plastic waste trade


Hoping to slow plastic pollution in the environment, members at a high-level United Nations meeting May 10 decided to include plastic waste in a treaty governing trade in hazardous waste.

The changes in the Basel Convention, which were pushed by Norway and adopted by the 187-nation body, create a legally-binding and potentially far-reaching framework that will put tighter controls on buying and selling of plastic scrap and waste.

At a news conference at the close of the meeting in Geneva, U.N. officials also made note of huge petition drives on social media urging the Basel negotiators to act on plastics waste.

"Plastic waste is acknowledged as one of the world's most pressing environmental issues, and the fact that this week close to 1 million people around the world signed a petition urging Basel Convention Parties to take action here in Geneva ... is a sign that public awareness and desire for action is high," said Rolph Payet, executive secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, a U.N. agency.

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