The U.S. State Department has contacted SWANA for consultation on a proposal made by Norway to amend a portion of the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal relating to plastic waste. Norway’s proposal can be found here.

Norway proposes moving plastic waste from the Annex IX list of non-hazardous waste that are not subject to Convention controls to the Annex II list of categories of wastes requiring special consideration, defined as “other wastes” for purposes of the Convention.

The proposal would add a new entry to Annex II titled “Plastic Waste: Waste and scrap from plastic and mixed plastic waste materials and mixtures of waste containing plastics, including micro plastic beads.”

This change means that the transboundary movements of plastic waste would be subject to the Basel prior informed consent procedure in cases where the importing State has not prohibited import.

By explicitly including plastic waste in the scope of the Basel Convention, Norway states that these waste streams can be controlled, and mismanagement of plastic waste avoided. Norway believes this action will help to address marine litter and encourage better environmentally sound management of plastic waste.

At the urging of Norway, the Basel Convention Open-ended Working Group has decided to add a discussion of marine litter and micro plastics to the agenda of its next meeting in September 2018.  It will consider relevant options available under the Convention to further address marine plastic litter and micro plastics and develop a proposal for future action. Norway’s proposal will be a part of the discussion.

The State Department has asked for SWANA to review the proposal and provide informal comments no later than COB June 29. They would like to better understand its potential impacts in preparation for consulting with Norway on this issue.  In our conversation with the State Department today about this request, we discussed the fact that the United States is not a party to the Basel Convention, which complicates the U.S.’s ability to influence the outcome of Norway’s request.

If these changes will affect you or your business, SWANA requests feedback or questions COB Thursday, June 28.  Please contact the Hoosier Chapter to get in touch with SWANA.