At the beginning of last year, 187 countries took steps to limit the export of plastic trash from wealthy to developing countries. It’s not working as well as they hoped.

According to an analysis of global trade data by the nonprofit Basel Action Network, or BAN, violations of a U.N. agreement regulating the international plastic waste trade have been “rampant” over the past year. Since January 1, 2021, when new new rules were supposed to begin clamping down on countries that ship their plastic refuse abroad, the U.S., Canada, and the European Union have offloaded hundreds of millions of tons of plastic to other countries, where much of it may be landfilled, burned, or littered into the environment.

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