On May 10, 2019, 187 countries agreed to amend the Basal Convention to include plastic waste, to help reduce plastic pollution and protect human health and ecosystems, and they also established a new Partnership on Plastic Waste. The Basel Convention, short for the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Waste and their Disposal, is supported by the United Nations and regulates the transfer of certain materials between borders. About this important agreement, Rolph Payet with the United Nations Environment Programme said, “I’m proud that this week in Geneva, Parties to the Basel Convention have reached agreement on a legally-binding, globally-reaching mechanism for managing plastic waste. Plastic waste is acknowledged as one of the world’s most pressing environmental issues…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…a sign that public awareness and desire for action is high.” Despite this encouraging action, the United States was not a signatory to this agreement on plastic waste, because it is one of only two countries that has not ratified the treaty. We must speak up if we find the absence of our country’s participation in this important global effort troubling, but it is important to remember that we can also advocate for state and local governments to step up and create policies to reduce plastic waste in our communities.

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