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End Plastic Waste Exports

Why: The social and environmental harms caused by plastic waste exports are clear. Actions to find markets for plastic waste materials collected in U.S. communities should not harm communities in other countries.  The only credible way to assure that the harms of plastic waste exports are stopped is to stop plastic waste exports altogether.

Global Treaty Began on 1/1/2021: The Basel Convention Plastic Waste Amendments restrict exports of plastic waste. The U.S. must respect the laws of other countries and stop exporting plastic waste. 

2019 Export Analysis: Why is the U.S. Still Offshoring Plastic Waste Around the World?


2018 Export Analysis157,000 Shipping Containers of U.S. Plastic Waste Exported to Countries with Poor Waste Management in 2018

Background: Plastic waste has been exported and counted as “recycled” by industrialized countries for decades. Without documented traceability of the final fate of the plastic waste, bales of waste plastic collected from municipal and commercial recycling systems were shipped to buyers in foreign countries, many of which had no worker age and wage protections, no health and safety standards, few environmental regulations and no guarantee that the plastic waste would actually be recycled.

Reporters have shown that cheap plastic waste imports hurt the economics of creating plastic waste collection systems in countries that need them most. 

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The Last Beach Cleanup in the News on Exports:

National Observer: The secretive scrap plastic trade between Canada and the U.S.

Recycling International: Watchdog challenges shipping lines to curb illegal waste exports

Huff Post: America’s Biggest Trash Hauler Stops Shipping Plastic To Poor Countries

The Guardian: Where does your plastic go? Global investigation reveals America's dirty secret

Waste Dive: Major recyclers deny still exporting plastic overseas

Waste Dive: Malaysia returning 3,300 tons of contaminated plastic scrap

Waste Dive: US stands as lone OECD opponent of Basel plastic amendment

Who What Why: US-Canada Plastic Waste Trade Deal Subverts Basel Convention

We're Calling on U.S. Waste & Recycling Companies to Stop Exporting 

In 2019, we wrote to 54 U.S. waste and recycling companies asking them to stop exporting plastic waste because the harms have been proven and there is no final fate accountability of plastic waste shipments. Collaboration with Greenpeace USA, Plastic Pollution Coalition and Beyond Plastics. 

Six of the 54 companies committed to not export plastic waste, including Waste Management, Casella and Republic Services. For complete list of companies and commitments, see our survey

In 2021, we are again calling on all U.S. waste and recycling companies to stop exporting plastic waste and respect the Basel Plastic Waste  Amendments.

Plastic Waste Trade Analysis

We're collaborating with the Basel Action Network (BAN) to publish Key Metrics and Messages on the plastic waste trade.  Connect to BAN's Plastic Waste Transparency Hub to find trade charts and the latest news on the plastic waste trade.

Shipping Lines Campaign

We're collaborating with the Basel Action Network (BAN) to ask global shipping companies to stop transporting plastic waste from OECD Countries to Non-OECD Countries, Turkey and Mexico. Connect to BAN's Shipping Lines Campaign page to find the Shipping Lines Scorecard and the latest news on shipping companies.

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