After a report revealing that plastic waste exports to some countries in Latin America had increased by two-thirds during the first seven month of 2020, environmental organizations across Latin America have called for the US to reduce these exports.
The US is currently the largest exporter of plastic waste in the world. However, it has drastically reduced its exports since 2015 when China, previously the top importer, declared that it does not want to be the world’s rubbish landfill and began imposing restrictions. Other countries are seeing an increase in imports., Not least in Latin America with its cheap labor and close proximity to America.
Mexico received more than 32650 tons (29620 metric tonnes) of US plastic waste between January and August 2020. This is more than 75% of the region’s imports. According to research by the Last Beach Cleanup (an environmental advocacy group based out of California), El Salvador was second with 4,054 tons and Ecuador third with 3,665 tons.
Although hazardous waste imports are subjected to tariffs and restrictions they are rarely enforced. Plastic waste intended for recycling that was not considered hazardous by international law until January can often end up in landfills, according to researchers from the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives.
A Gaia report, published in July, also predicted further growth of the plastic waste industry in Latin America as a result of companies from the US and China investing into factories and recycling plants in the region to process US plastic exports.
Some see the practice as an example of environmental colonialism. Cross-border plastic waste trading is one of the most perverse expressions of colonial occupation and commercialization of common goods. It can also be used to turn territories of the geopolitical South into sacrifice zones. Fernanda Solz, the health director at Simn Bolvar University in Ecuador, said that this practice is a form of environmental colonialism.
Soliz stated that Latin America and the Caribbean were not the United States’ back yard. We are sovereign territories and demand that the rights of nature as well as our peoples be respected.
In May 2019, most of the world’s countries agreed to reduce the flow of plastic from the developed nations of North America into the poorer countries of the south. This agreement, known as the plastics amendement to the Basel Convention (Plastics Amendment to the Basel Convention), prohibits the exporting of plastic waste from the US to countries in developing nations without permission from local governments.
The US did not ratify it, and has been accused by others of continuing to funnel their waste into other countries, including Africa, South East Asia, and Latin America.
Two aspects of regional governments’ failures are: inspections at customs, because we don’t know what enters the country under the pretense of recycling, and also failing to fulfill their international agreements like the ILO. Basel convention. Camila Aguilera is a spokesperson for Gaia. This is where it is important that you understand the different types of recycling. Recycling is seen as a positive thing.
Aguilera stated that recycling is something countries in the global North consider a proud thing, and they forget about recycling products and reducing waste. Although it is difficult for governments to treat plastic as toxic waste, that is what it is.