The United States Wants Nothing To Do With The United Nations' Plastic Waste Pact

The sheer number of plastic humans and machines have created over the last 70 years is absolutely, positively jaw-sitting-on-the-sidewalk-dropping,  as what was once 1.5 million tons of plastic in the 1950s has grown to over 320 million tons and counting. Considering Nat Geo has loudly declared that only 9% of all plastic is recycled, you can guess how much of that plastic produced is sitting pretty in a landfill or creating a new home within the ocean.

Dissatisfied and unwilling to settle for the impact plastic has on Mother Earth, companies, brands, and even countries around the globe have set initiatives and goals in hopes of preventing more irreparable damage.

As of last Friday, the journey to a greener, less plastic filled planet continued as 186 countries around the world made another step towards the reduction of plastic waste by agreeing to track and monitor the movements of thousands of types of plastic. Inspired by the 1992 treaty known as the Basel Convention that tracks hazardous waste and materials, this refined Plastic Pact will protect our planet and health by better regulating global trade in plastic waste.

“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,” Rolph Payet of the United Nations Environment Program said. “Countries have decided to do something which will translate into real action on the ground.”

Everyone except the United States, which is more than a little disappointing considering we're one of the wealthiest countries in the world. It's also one of the largest producers of plastic waste as 102.1 billion plastic bags, and 2.4 million tons of PET plastic get discarded, 41% of which is water bottles. The worst part, this isn't the first deal the United States has side-stepped as Trump withdrew from the Paris climate accord as well two years ago.

The lack of participation may cause trouble for the US and the few countries that didn't sign in the future as it's speculated they may have difficulty shipping plastic waste to the countries that did. The Plastic Pact is a legally binding agreement that holds the added weight of accountability to match the urgency required to prevent further damage to the planet.

Unfortunately, there is no way to know and you, just like everyone else, will have to wait to see just how this new step unfolds. Fingers crossed it's an impactful step in the right direction, and the countries who didn't sign will hop on board. 

Given the Trump administration’s thoughts on the environment and regulations, we’re not exactly holding our breath.