Governments refusing waste plastic exports from United States

Indonesia River Warrior
Protests by organisation Indonesia River Warrior against US waste plastics exports

A number of governments in non-OECD countries have begun refusing waste plastic exports from the United States as a result of new Basel Convention rules.

Due to the changes in the Basel Convention regulations that began at the start of this year, it is not allowed for countries that have signed up to the Convention to import waste plastic from non-signatory nations.


As the United States is not a member of the Basel Convention, waste plastic exports are not permitted unless sent to OECD countries unless it gets prior consent.

Malaysia’s Environment Minister Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man has announced that a shipment of waste plastic exports from the United States that left on 14 March that had not received prior consent will be returned back to Los Angeles.

The material is believed to have been exported by Sigma Recycling and was due to arrive in Port Klang on 27 March.

It is also understood that Indonesia is considering taking measures against two containers of waste LDPE that have already arrived from the United States, with three more due from the same exporter Newport CH International.

The Indian Government was also alerted by Basel Action Network that a shipment of waste PVC was due to reach it on a Maersk vessel on 28 March.

Last week, the Break Free from Plastics Act was introduced into the US Congress. This bill will, among other things, ensure that the US abides by the Basel Convention and potentially ratify its membership of the Convention.

Basel Action Network director Jim Puckett said: “We fully endorse the Break Free from Plastics Act and call upon the Biden administration to use its executive powers to prevent criminal trafficking in waste and promote the immediate ratification of the Basel Convention.

“President Biden has stated he is a champion of environment justice. It’s time for him to put deeds behind words and uphold international law.”

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