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Basel Convention Proposal on Plastics

In June, the government of Norway submitting a proposal to the Basel Convention secretariat that plastic waste and scrap be moved from Annex IX [wastes not covered in the Convention] to Annex II [Categories of Wastes Requiring Special Consideration or “other wastes”], thereby placing plastic waste and scrap within the scope of the Basel Convention.

Norway’s intent is to use the Basel Convention to address the marine litter crisis. Unfortunately, ISRI believes that the implications of such a move would do more to discourage plastics recycling than it would help curb plastic waste in the oceans, telling member governments that “recycling is part of the solution, not the problem.”

If adopted, having plastics under the jurisdiction of the Basel Convention would mean administrative burdens for plastic scrap traders worldwide. More troubling for U.S. companies that import or export plastic scrap is that it would place a severe restriction on trade given that the United States is not a party to the Basel Convention, and thus, there are only limited exceptions to prohibitions on trade between parties and non-parties.

The proposal has only just been introduced and would be required to go through several procedural steps over the course of the coming months before it would be adopted, which gives ISRI time to work with the U.S. Government and Basel Convention members to find other ways in which to tackle marine litter without impairing plastic scrap trade. Although the United States is not a party, ISRI will participate as an observer in the deliberations on this issue, working with the U.S. Government whose voice will also be heard in the discussions.

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