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Basel Convention amendment to the classification of plastic waste

23 MAY 2019

On 10th May, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) issued an Amendment to Annexes in the Basel Convention that from 1 January 2021, will affect the classification of plastic waste for export. This was agreed at the Conference of Parties after hard fought negotiations over the Norwegian proposal to effectively ban the export of mixed plastic.

The Amendment creates a new entry in Annex II - Y48 - that places all plastic waste subject to notification procedures UNLESS they fall within one of the exceptions in Y48:

  • Hazardous plastic wastes.
  • Shipments of non-halogenated polymers, provided they are almost exclusively one non-halogenated polymer, almost free from contamination and other types of wastes (a non-exhaustive list of non-halogenated polymers is provided) and destined for recycling in an environmentally sound manner.
  • Shipments of cured resins or condensation products, provided they are almost exclusively one cured resin or one condensation product, almost free from contamination and other types of wastes (a non-exhaustive list of cured resins and condensation products is provided) and destined for recycling in an environmentally sound manner
  • Shipments of fluorinated polymer wastes, provided they are almost exclusively one fluorinated polymer waste, almost free from contamination and other types of wastes (an exhaustive list of fluorinated polymer wastes is provided) and destined for recycling in an environmentally sound manner.
  • Mixed shipments of PET, PE and PP provided all the wastes in the shipment are destined for separate recycling in environmentally sound manner, and almost free from contamination and other types of wastes

There is a new entry in Annex VIII (A3210) for hazardous plastic waste. This entry ensures hazardous plastic wastes are subject to the notification procedure. This entry becomes effective as of 1 January 2021.

There is a new mirror entry in Annex IX (B3011) for the list of non-hazardous plastic wastes and mixtures of non-hazardous plastic wastes that are excluded from notification controls by the Annex II entry of Y48, this entry will come into effect on the 1 January 2021.

Simply put all plastic wastes shipments will now be subject to notification controls from 1 January 2021 unless they are specifically excluded by virtue of the Y48 entry in Annex II. 

The revised guidelines will be developed over the course of the next two years with a view to adoption by the next Conference of the Parties in April/May 2021. However, Basel Guidelines are non-binding and the change to the Annexes will, subject to amendments to the EU Waste Shipments regulations, come into force in the EU on the 1 January 2021.

The footnotes should also be read and of particular interest is footnote 9 as it requires mixed plastic one interim process before it is all recycled (R3), but the export must be accompanied by ‘contractual and relevant official documentation’ for the second site.

 

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