OECD says most recycled plastic exports to member countries can stay as green list

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OECD Member States
A map of OECD member states

Member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) can now keep most categories of recycled plastic exports as green list until possibly the end of 2024 if they wish.

This means that exporters of recycled plastic in OECD countries could be able to send plastic to other OECD members with no prior notification, unlike the new Basel Convention rules that come into effect from 1 January 2021 that will make most recycled plastics amber list and therefore require notification.

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Normally, the OECD would adopt the rules of the Basel Convention automatically, but following an objection from an OECD member, meetings held by the OECD agreed that member states could decide their own rules on plastic exports as long as they meet domestic and international law.

The only exception to this is that OECD members have agreed that from 1 January 2021 hazardous plastics, categorised as A3210 under the Basel Convention, will still require what is known as Prior Informed Consent (PIC) under the Convention or typically called amber list notification.

Paul’s view

Paul Sanderson, REB Market Intelligence

This could all get very complicated with OECD countries able to set their own rules on plastic exports, as long as it meets their own domestic laws and international law.

Effectively, this means they can keep exports of Y48 or B3011 plastics as green list if they wish.

For recycled plastic exporters though, it potentially adds an additional level of complication if different OECD members have different rules on exports.

For other plastics, categorised as either Y48 or B3011 under the Basel Convention, OECD member states could not agree on adopting these so will revisit the decision by the end of 2024.

This means that they will be required by the OECD to set out their own requirements, which could include retaining the exports as green list.

OECD member states will be required to communicate their rules by 15 January 2021 and these will be published on the OECD website.

Under the Basel Convention, hazardous plastics under the A3210 rules typically contain hazardous constituents such as lead compounds or organohalogen compounds.

Those plastics under Y48 require PIC notification under the Basel Convention rules from 1 January 2021, but B3011 plastics do not.

The plastics under Y48 and B3011 are defined in the Basel Convention as:

Y48

Plastic waste, including mixtures of such waste, with the exception of the following:
• Plastic waste that is hazardous waste pursuant to paragraph 1 (a) of Article 14
• Plastic waste listed below, provided it is destined for recycling in an environmentally sound manner and almost free from contamination and other types of wastes:

  • Plastic waste almost exclusively consisting of one non-halogenated polymer, including but not limited to the following polymers:
    o Polyethylene (PE)
    o Polypropylene (PP)
    o Polystyrene (PS)
    o Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS)
    o Polyethylene terephthalate (PET)
    o Polycarbonates (PC)
    o Polyethers
  • Plastic waste almost exclusively consisting of one cured resin or condensation product, including but not limited to the following resins:
    o Urea formaldehyde resins
    o Phenol formaldehyde resins
    o Melamine formaldehyde resins
    o Epoxy resins
    o Alkyd resins
  • Plastic waste almost exclusively consisting of one of the following fluorinated polymers:
    o Perfluoroethylene/propylene (FEP)
    o Perfluoroalkoxy alkanes:
    ▪ Tetrafluoroethylene/perfluoroalkyl vinyl ether (PFA)
    ▪ Tetrafluoroethylene/perfluoromethyl vinyl ether (MFA)
    o Polyvinylfluoride (PVF)
    o Polyvinylidenefluoride (PVDF)

B3011

Plastic waste (note the related entries Y48 in Annex II and on list A A3210):
• Plastic waste listed below, provided it is destined for recycling in an environmentally sound manner and almost free from contamination and other types of wastes:

  • Plastic waste almost exclusively consisting of one non-halogenated polymer, including but not limited to the following polymers:
    o Polyethylene (PE)
    o Polypropylene (PP)
    o Polystyrene (PS)
    o Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS)
    o Polyethylene terephthalate (PET)
    o Polycarbonates (PC)
    o Polyethers
  • Plastic waste almost exclusively consisting of one cured resin or condensation product, including but not limited to the following resins:
    o Urea formaldehyde resins
    o Phenol formaldehyde resins
    o Melamine formaldehyde resins
    o Epoxy resins
    o Alkyd resins
  • Plastic waste almost exclusively consisting of one of the following fluorinated polymers:
    o Perfluoroethylene/propylene (FEP)
    o Perfluoroalkoxy alkanes:
    ▪ Tetrafluoroethylene/perfluoroalkyl vinyl ether (PFA)
    ▪ Tetrafluoroethylene/perfluoromethyl vinyl ether (MFA)
    o Polyvinylfluoride (PVF)
    o Polyvinylidenefluoride (PVDF)
    • Mixtures of plastic waste, consisting of polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP) and/or polyethylene terephthalate (PET), provided they are destined for separate recycling of each material and in an environmentally sound manner, and almost free from contamination and other types of wastes.

The full summary of the OECD decision can be found here

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