Date of Award

Fall 2022

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Political Science, PhD


School of Social Science, Politics, and Evaluation

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Javier Rodriguez

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Jacek Kugler

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Mark Abdollahian

Terms of Use & License Information

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Rights Information

© 2022 Ana Ortiz Salazar


Generalized Method of Moments, International Waste Trade, Plastic Waste, Polyethylene, Social Network Analysis

Subject Categories

Political Science


Plastic waste management is an area of increasing concern for environmental and public health. Existing research shows that as of 2019, 79% of total generated plastic waste has accumulated in landfills or leaked into the environment, 12% incinerated, and 9% recycled. China’s Operation National Sword, launched in 2017, banned the import of plastic waste and other materials, triggering ripple effects throughout the global plastic scraps trade network. The impacts are cross-sectoral and multi-scalar, cascading across markets, policy, the natural environment, public health, and have increased uncertainty about the future of the global trade of plastics. To understand shifts across the global plastic scraps network, the author of this dissertation first uses a Social Network Analysis (SNA) approach to explore the structural changes over time of the plastic trade network, especially due to China’s Operation National Sword. Results show that Southeast Asian, and Western and Central European countries became the most important traders of plastic waste after China’s Operation National Sword. A cross-sectional time-series multi-method analysis additionally shows that poorer countries with large manufacturing sectors were the most affected by the policy, becoming havens for plastic waste. Trade partners of top plastic traders such as China became more likely to import waste as well. Results from a System Generalized Method of Moments (SGMM) analysis reveals that wealthier countries trade more plastic scraps of mixed materials, while large manufacturers import more polyethylene plastic. Countries with higher environmental performance were better to prevent plastic import increases relative to their exports.