Proposal to remove plastics from green list of exports gets support

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A proposal from the Norwegian Government to remove plastics from the green list of exports looks set to become international law.

Following the latest meeting of the Basel Convention Open-ended Working Group in Geneva, the proposal was given support with the intention to ratify it fully at the next meeting in April 2019.

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As reported in August by REB Market Intelligence, the Norwegian Government suggested amendments to Annex II and Annex IX of the Basel Convention that would lead to exporters of plastics having to notify the authorities at the end destination that they were shipping material prior to departure.

This would lead to added bureaucracy and could potentially see additional processing fees implemented by destination authorities.

Currently, exporters need to fill in an Annex VII form that accompanies the material to the end destination and describes the material. This status is commonly known as the ‘green list’ that allows for international trade of recyclable materials.

While this proposal if passed will cause additional difficulties for Basel Convention signatories, of which the UK is one, it will prevent US recyclers from exporting plastics.

This is because the US has not ratified the Basel Convention and the new measures would mean that signatory countries cannot receive non-green list plastics from non-signatory nations.

While US exporters would still be able to export to OECD countries, not many of these actually import plastics. Only Turkey, which is an OECD member, is a notable recycled plastic importer.

The proposals having gained support of the Open-ended Working Group will now be considered by the 14th Conference of the Parties of the Basel Convention in late April and early May 2019 in Geneva.

At this meeting, the proposal will require a two thirds majority vote, unless there is a clear consensus to adopt the Norwegian proposals to the amendments.

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