Updated the “Basel Convention” on the export of hazardous waste
The “Basel Convention” is the main international treaty for the regulation of the movement of hazardous waste.
At the meeting held from 29 April to 10 May to discuss possible updates of the Convention, Norway’s proposal to include plastics in the category of hazardous materials for which the countries receiving them must give theirs was presented and discussed informed preliminary consent “on their willingness to accept them for recycling activities.
The problem arises from the refusal of South East Asian countries to receive non-recyclable materials and in particular from waste before China and then from other South East Asian countries such as the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, to still receive materials for them not recyclable.
An example of “refusal to receive waste” was the re-dispatch to Canada of 69 containers containing 1,500 tons of waste sent to the Philippines just a few years ago from Canada. Now the other nations of the area are also thinking of returning to their place of origin the hazardous waste they received in recent years.
At the meeting it was so decided that from 2020 those who want to export hazardous waste to other countries will have to receive a preliminary consent from the recipient country. At the moment, however, there do not seem to be any particular sanctions and no particular monitoring is foreseen.
Poor quality recycled plastics will therefore be increasingly difficult to export to countries that do not have an eco-compatible management methodology. The trade associations and the industrialists of the sector raise concerns about how this decision can have an influence also on the market and on the commerce responsible for the recycling.
Of course this decision will have a big impact on recycling pushing towards a recycling closer and closer to the source of waste production that, only once recovered in the form of powder or granules, would then be sent all over the world as for virgin resin.
With this update, however, the Basel Convention poses a new problem, that of uniformity in the classification of waste; to avoid competitive advantages / disadvantages, it would be very useful for all nations, at least the European ones, to agree to use the same clear rule for the classification of plastic and non-hazardous waste falling under the Basel Convention.