EA publishes Guidance on Basel changes to plastic waste classification

02 NOVEMBER 2020

Following a quick consultation at the end of last week, the EA has published guidance on their interpretation of the new controls applied by the Basel Convention to the export of waste plastic from 1 January.

This includes, for instance, some clarification of the Agency's position in their consideration of 'almost exclusively'.

The Basel change that will require notification of any mix of polymers outside PE/PET/PP will apply to whole bales in a container, not just a mix in a bale. So a container or lorry trailer that primarily has bales of LDPE but also contains a couple of bales of PS would require notification.

PVC will become a notifiable waste for export or import from/to EU and GB but will be classed as EU3011 (EU version of B3011) for intra-EU movements.

Under the Northern Ireland Protocol, it is expected that NI will be considered to be part of the EU for waste movements into or out of EU Member States

The EA has also published a very comprehensive guidance to the notification process. Some wastes currently exported as green list will have to be exported as notifiable eg PVC and mixtures outside PE/PP/PET and the notifications are not supposed to be accepted by the EA until the new requirements are put into legislation which is unlikely before early-mid December. However, they have done their best to help those businesses that would be affected and have now agreed to accept notification applications from today. This does not mean the overseas competent authorities will take the same supportive approach and it may be that some will not consider any applications until after 1 Jan.

Finally, the EA has published their Regulatory Approach to the Basel changes. This states that 

'Until March 2021 we aim to tackle non-compliance with the new requirements for movements of waste by advice and guidance where possible to allow businesses to adapt.
However where serious, significant or repeated breaches are identified, we may choose to follow a different enforcement response from 1 January 2021.'