14th Meeting of the Conference of Parties to the Basel Convention recently agreed to include mixed, unrecyclable and contaminated plastic waste exports into the control regime that requires the consent of importing countries before waste exports can proceed. The decision was hailed by the vast majority of the 187 nations present as well as by the Convention’s environmental watchdog organization — Basel Action Network (BAN) along with other civil society groups in attendance, as a breakthrough for environmental justice and an ethical circular economy.
At the meeting, the United States, while not a party to the Convention, worked with Argentina and Brazil to scuttle the agreement in support of ISRI and the Plastics and Chemicals industries present. Their efforts however were rebuffed and the decision was adopted by consensus.
As the Basel Convention forbids trade between Parties and non-Parties such as the US, any future exports of the same mixed and dirty plastic to developing countries, it will, for the first time, be considered illegal traffic. The European Union countries will also be prohibited from exporting dirty/mixed plastic waste to developing countries as they have already banned all exports of Basel controlled waste to developing countries.
“The fact that the US will no longer be able to use the rest of the world as a plastic waste dump is a very significant victory for the environment and global justice,” said Puckett. We hope that this will signal a new era of dramatic reduction in plastic use, particularly with single-use, and unnecessary plastic products, while creating a major incentive to expand US national infrastructure for environmentally sound recycling for their own domestically created wastes.” (PR)