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Basel Convention signatories agree to
tighten waste plastic export rules

13.05.2019 − 

The signatories of the Basel Convention reached an agreement in Geneva last Friday on new rules that will govern international shipments of waste plastics as of 1 January 2021. From that point on, only single-polymer wastes, and mixed waste plastics of polypropylene, polyethylene and PET that are almost entirely free of contaminants and demonstrably intended for recycling, will be permitted to be traded freely as "green list" waste under the Convention, which covers the trans-boundary movement of hazardous waste and their disposal. 

Plastic wastes which have to be classified as hazardous waste, or which are difficult to recycle – because for example they are heavily contaminated – will be subject to the prior notification and consent procedure and can then only be legally exported with the authorisation from both the country of dispatch and the destination country. The German environment ministry believes that the changes to the Convention create a firmer regulatory footing for domestic environmental enforcement and customs authorities because they distinguish more clearly which wastes may be freely traded and which may not.

As a next step the OECD will draft a Decision to incorporate the amendments to the Basel Convention into its own control system for transboundary movements between member countries of waste destined for recovery. The transposition of the new rules into the EU's Waste Shipment Regulation (WSR) will result in a ban on exports of difficult to recycle waste plastics from EU member states to non-OECD countries.

The full article appears in issue 10 of EUWID Recycling & Waste Management on 15 May 2019.

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