IPEN: Close “forgotten plastics” loopholes in Basel Convention

IPEN policy advisor Lee Bell discusses how waste streams containing plastics such as textiles and rubber are often “forgotten” in Basel Convention controls in Geneva.

The International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN) is calling on policymakers to address “loopholes” for plastic waste shipments under the Basel Convention. Speaking for the environmental group this week at a side event of the 14th meeting of the Open-ended Working Group of the Basel Convention (OEWG-14), technical and policy advisor Lee Bell noted that significant volumes of plastic waste continued to be traded without Convention controls due the misclassification and misinterpretation of the World Customs Organization’s HS commodity codes, and in some cases of Basel Convention annex codes as well.

Efforts to track and control plastic waste trade flows usually focus on material coded as HS 3915, “waste, parings, and scrap, of plastics”. However, the harmonised commodity code covers only a limited subset of plastic waste and neglects other wastes, particularly those that can be assigned other commodity codes. As examples of “hidden” or “forgotten” plastics, Mr Bell named synthetic textiles, plastic-based rubber products, plastic mixed in bales of recovered paper, and the plastic component of refuse-derived fuels (RDF). The failure to account for “forgotten plastics” meant that the amount of plastic waste being shipped from OECD countries to non-OECD countries was as much as twice the reported figure….

Source: EUWID (27 June 2024)