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Basel Convention update bad for scrap trade?

The Basel Convention Conference adopted amendments to reduce ocean plastics debris last Friday. This move will likely impair the trade of recyclable plastics, according to the US Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries.

The industry body warns that the new listings for controlled plastics, and the requirement that exporters file ‘prior informed consent’ requests, will create a heavy administrative burden. This will make it harder for countries without recycling capacity to export collected plastics to countries with the infrastructure in place. Furthermore, the new stance does ‘little to fight the illicit trade and poor handling of end-of-life plastics that are the real cause of pollution around the world’.

All-in all, ISRI concludes: ‘This will hamper the world’s ability to recycle plastic material, creating an increased risk of pollution,’ says ISRI.

Ross Bartley, trade and environment director of the Bureau of International Recycling (BIR) attended the conference. He believes the development will force countries to do more to manage their own plastic waste at the point of generation.

‘Not only will movements of non-recyclable or difficult-to-recycle plastic wastes now be reduced and controlled but countries will also work together under the Basel Convention Partnership for Plastic Wastes and undertake more actions and initiatives so as better to manage plastics,’ he comments.

And he adds: ‘Within less than a year, the Basel Convention has reacted to public concerns and provided meaningful change. When these legal changes come into force, the next challenge will be implementation, helping even the smallest of island states to comply.’

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