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U.S. Government Files Objection to OECD Automatically Adopting Basel Convention’s Plastics Restrictions

The Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development (OECD) – a collection of mostly rich countries in North America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan – has a provision in its own transboundary waste framework to automatically adopt any changes to the Basel Convention. The intent of this was to create certainty and ease for exporters and importers so as not to have to follow multiple trade regimes. The United States is not a party to the Basel Convention, but a special arrangement among the OECD allows for the other countries to continue to trade with the United States (but other Basel parties that are not OECD countries cannot, such as China, India, Brazil and Southeast Asia). It is in this context that the United States Government officially sent a letter on July 3 to the OECD raising an objection to the automatic adoption of the Basel Convention’s new restrictions on plastics.

In the letter, the U.S. EPA (as the U.S. Government’s representative to the OECD waste committee) argues for all plastic scrap trade to be subject to the “Green control procedure” (i.e., unrestricted) to “help ensure the material can move to the jurisdictions that can recycle it efficiently and in an environmentally sound manner.” Raising the objection sets off a process for dialogue and negotiation among the OECD countries that, we hope, will mean the OECD allows all plastic scrap to continue to flow among the OECD countries without being subject to the Basel Convention’s “prior informed consent” procedure as well as keeping open opportunities for U.S. exports. ISRI’s Assistant Vice President for International Affairs Adina Renee Adler has been nominated to serve on an OECD technical committee being formed to review this issue, and ISRI intends to work closely with the U.S. Government in preparation for all OECD meetings and negotiations.

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