The government of Norway on June 2 submitted a proposal to create a new waste category for plastics under the Basel Convention. Norway applied to classify scrap plastics under Annex II, Y48, which covers “wastes requiring special consideration.” The annex currently includes two categories: waste collected from households and residue from waste incineration.
“By explicitly including plastic waste in the scope of the Basel Convention, these waste streams can be controlled, and mismanagement of plastic waste avoided,” according to an explanatory document submitted along with the application.
The application also asks to remove “solid plastic waste” from Annex IX, B3010, of the Convention. According to a European Union advisory document, this classification is used for scrap plastic loads that have had contaminants removed and are “prepared to a specification.”
Reasoning behind the proposal
The amount of plastic marine litter in oceans and seas is growing, to the detriment of ecosystems, biodiversity and potentially human health, and causes widespread concern. At the same time, valuable material that could be brought back into the economy is lost, once littered. Plastic makes up 80—85% of the total number of marine litter items, measured through beach counts.
There is considerable international trade in plastic waste. The greatest burden of plastic waste entering the sea is likely to arise where waste collection systems are ineffective or even non—existent. Developing countries in particular may face challenges in managing the rapidly growing volume of plastic waste. Developed countries may face challenges if they have not developed sufﬁcient capacity to dispose of plastic waste and rely on the continued availability of recycling capacity in other States.
The amendments are proposed in order to increase the effectiveness of the Convention as regards plastic wastes, and especially plastic waste that lead to marine pollution. Norway believes the proposed changes will lead to less marine plastic litter, increased traceability, more control, and less illegal dumping of plastic waste.
Although many plastic waste streams are not hazardous waste, they require special consideration. Plastic wastes that are not treated in an environmentally sound manner may lead to marine pollution. Recycling plastic wastes requires high competences as well as high environmental responsibility. It is a challenge for the producers of recycled plastic material to ensure that the material is of high quality and non—toxic. Further, plastic wastes may contain POPS and the environmentally sound management of plastic wastes will also contribute towards meeting the goals of the Stockholm Convention.
The proposal will be considered at the Convention’s Open-ended Working Group meeting, scheduled for Sept. 3-6 in Geneva.