15 Apr 2024

Venue: Online | Webex

Organization: Basel Action Network, Geneva Environment Network

This event, launching a new book " Plastic Waste Trade: A New Colonialist Means of Pollution Transfer", is organized within the framework of the Geneva Beat Plastic Pollution Dialogues. The event will discuss how the ongoing negotiations at the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution can address the problems inherent in the plastic waste trade.

About this Session

By the end of 2024, countries worldwide are expected to come to an agreement on how to manage plastic pollution, a transboundary problem exemplified in the movement of marine debris through ocean currents, and the movement of plastic through cross-border supply chains.

The book Plastic Waste Trade: A New Colonialist Means of Pollution Transfer takes a holistic view of the international waste trade and in doing so argues that the transfer of plastic waste from mainly Global North to primarily Global South countries constitutes a form of 21st Century colonialism. The authors take viewers through the history of the plastic waste trade – from toxic disasters in the 1970s and 1980s through the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal in 1989 – until China’s  2018 implementation of a “National Sword” policy effectively banned the importation of plastic waste and threw the plastic waste supply chains into disarray.

From there, the authors explore both the legal trade in plastic waste and the underground illegal trade in waste, arguing that both lead to devastating impacts on ecosystems, workers, and communities in receiving countries and highlighting how countries that receive waste are often less equipped to process it than the countries that export waste. The last section of the book presents cases from countries on the receiving end of the plastic waste trade, highlighting inherent problems from sociological and environmental justice perspectives.

What does this mean for the Global Plastic Treaty negotiations?

How can the ongoing negotiations at the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment, address the problems inherent in the plastic waste trade?

The speakers offer a sneak peek into the contents of the book, and deliberate over the opportunities for the Global Plastic Treaty to end waste colonialism.

Geneva Beat Plastic Pollution Dialogues

The world is facing a plastic crisis, the status quo is not an option. Plastic pollution is a serious issue of global concern which requires an urgent and international response involving all relevant actors at different levels. Many initiatives, projects and governance responses and options have been developed to tackle this major environmental problem, but we are still unable to cope with the amount of plastic we generate. In addition, there is a lack of coordination which can better lead to a more effective and efficient response.

Various actors in Geneva are engaged in rethinking the way we manufacture, use, trade and manage plastics. The Geneva Beat Plastic Pollution Dialogues aim at outreaching and creating synergies among these actors, highlighting efforts made by intergovernmental organizations, governments, businesses, the scientific community, civil society and individuals in the hope of informing and creating synergies and coordinated actions. The dialogues highlight what the different stakeholders in Geneva and beyond have achieved at all levels, and present the latest research and governance options.

Following the landmark resolution adopted at UNEA-5 to end plastic pollution and building on the outcomes of the first two series, the third series of dialogues will encourage increased engagement of the Geneva community with future negotiations on the matter.


By order of intervention.


Professor, Cukurova University, Türkiye


Dean and Professor, Faculty of Social Science & Humanities, Ontario Tech University


Executive Director and Founder, Basel Action Network (BAN)


Researcher, Climate Rights International

Jindřich PETRLIK

International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN)


Senior Advisor and Co-Founder, Nexus for Health, Environment and Development Foundation (Nexus3) | IPEN Steering Committee Member

Magdalena DONOSO

Regional Coordinator for Latin America and the Caribbean, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA)

Griffins OCHIENG

Executive Director, Centre for Environmental Justice and Development | Co-chair, IPEN Toxic Plastic Working Group


Basel Action Network (BAN) | Moderator


This event will take place online. To attend, please register on Webex.


Live on Webex