Prelims level : International Mains level : GS-II Governance, Social Justice and IR
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Why in News:

  • Malaysia says it will send back some 3,000 metric tonnes of non-recyclable plastic waste to countries including the U.S., U.K., Canada and Australia in a move to avoid becoming a dumping ground for rich nations.


  • Malaysia last year became the leading alternative destination for plastic scrap after China banned imports of such waste, disrupting the flow of more than 7 million tonnes of plastic scrap a year. Dozens of recycling factories cropped up in Malaysia, many without an operating licence, and residents complained of environmental damage.
  • Most of the plastic scrap coming into the country is contaminated and low-quality plastic from developed countries that is non-recyclable. Now Malaysia has begun sending back the waste to its country of origin. Malaysia has already sent five containers of contaminated plastic waste that was smuggled into the country back to its source.

Basel convention:

  • The Convention aims at:
  • Reducing the generation of hazardous wastes and promotion of environmentally sound management of hazardous wastes, irrespective of the place of disposal.
  • Restricting the transboundary movement of hazardous wastes except in those cases where it is perceived to be in compliance with the principles of environmentally sound management.
  • Putting in place a regulatory system which is applicable to cases where transboundary movements are permitted.

Way ahead:

  • Around 180 countries reached a deal to amend the Basel Convention to make global trade in plastic waste more transparent and better regulated, while also ensuring that its management is safer for human health and the environment.
  • The United States, the world’s top exporter of plastic waste, has not ratified the 30-year-old pact.
  • The amendments to the treaty will further limit the flow of plastic scrap to developing countries
  • The amendment of the Basel Convention is the first step in solving the global problem of unjust rubbish movement from developed to developing countries
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