WTO working on proposals to better understand global trade of scrap plastics


A World Trade Organisation (WTO) informal dialogue is looking at ways to get better data on the global trade of scrap plastics and plastic products.

The informal dialogue process (IDP) is being led by Australia, Barbados, China, Ecuador, Fiji and Morocco.


It is working in conjunction with a review of the HS code system, that may help better identify plastics and plastic products, including scrap plastics.

As part of its objectives for the discussions, it wants to work with the WTO and other nations to ensure “the better identification and greater transparency of plastics flows, across their life cycle, including flows of plastics embedded in internationally traded goods or associated with them (such as plastic packaging), and waste, parings, and scrap of plastics, as well as the implementation of customs-relevant policies aimed to address plastic pollution”.

The outcomes from the discussions, and other WTO work on plastic pollution, may include:

  • Revised HS codes that will help better identify plastic products – current HS codes for international trade identification tend to bundle plastics together in generic codes
  • Potential for new testing or labels to identify plastics
  • Work to help customs officials have better understanding of the types of plastics and to identify them
  • Identifying environmentally sustainable trade mechanisms.
  • There isn’t a time limit on when these discussions will lead to concrete actions.