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Recyclers urged to act over ‘hazardous’ plastic scrap

The Bureau of International Recycling (BIR) is calling on recycling associations and businesses to lobby their Governments over proposed changes to the Basel Convention that it believes will hit plastic recycling.

Norway wants the convention to reclassify certain plastic wastes by adding them to Annex II of the convention. It argues that this list of wastes for ‘special consideration’ would help address marine litter. The change would require a notification procedure by exporting countries and consent to countries before export.

Earlier this week, FEAD, which represent waste management associations in Europe, warned that additional bureaucracy and form-filling would ‘hinder the development of an EU market for plastic waste, by raising the administrative burden and the costs of shipping plastic waste, or by making them simply impossible’.

End-of-year deadline

Now BIR has added its voice. It notes that the signatories to the convention have until 31 December to comment on the Norwegian amendments that will be considered at a meeting in Geneva from 29 April to 10 May 2019.

BIR criticises this process, saying; ‘It is unfortunate that comments were not requested from any other stakeholders. Besides, there is no mechanism to make any other stakeholder comments available to parties or the Government of Norway’.

Affiliated associations and companies are urged to make representations through their own governments. BIR says it strongly supports policies that will address the global challenge of marine litter but argues the Norwegian proposal addresses neither inefficient plastic waste collection nor plastic littering, the two main reasons for marine litter.

‘Instead, alterations as proposed by Norway will principally affect the transboundary movement of plastic wastes after collection and consolidation,’ says BIR’s trade and environment director Ross Bartley in a letter to associations and companies with plastics interests.

Revisions are ‘unclear’

The letter adds: ‘BIR supports the proposed Annex VIII listing for hazardous plastic wastes, besides that has been implicit in the Basel Convention for decades. Unfortunately, as the proposed revisions to Annex II and IX are so unclear, they could well hinder the cross-border movement of collected plastic wastes to environmentally soundly managed recovery and recycling facilities.

‘Both new and existing national collection systems could be damaged by costly and inefficient controls that hinder bulk plastic waste delivery to such environmentally sound management (ESM) facilities, particularly as not every country will have the necessary recovery and recycling facilities to properly manage their own plastic wastes.

‘In particular developing countries will need to export non-hazardous plastic waste to ESM recycling facilities, and Basel Notification procedures for plastic waste & scrap in Annex II will place great burdens on their competent authorities and exporters.’

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