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The Changing Geography of International Trade in Waste Plastics

Authors: Enru Wang*, University of North Dakota
Topics: Economic Geography, Environment
Keywords: international trade, waste plastics, circular economy, sustainable development, environmental justice, global value chain, global production network.
Session Type: Paper
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Waste plastics have become a major environmental threat in the world. Before an environmentally-safer, cost-effective alternative becomes widely available, plastics will remain important in the economy and daily life. As “circular economy” is increasingly seen as a means for achieving sustainable development, it is imperative to promote more efficient use of plastics worldwide. This paper studies the changing geography of international trade in waste plastics. It reveals an increasingly complex pattern of international trade in waste plastics over the last two decades. The results of the research challenge the core-periphery or north-south dichotomy that plagues political-economic approaches to international trade (e.g., the world system theory, environmental justice thesis). The study also contributes to the debate about value in another family of political-economic approaches to international trade – global value chain and global production network.

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