Norway wins through on global plastic waste control
Tighter control of the global trade in plastic waste becomes part of the Basel Convention. This happens based on a proposal from Norway.
“Trading in plastic waste is an increasing problem as much of the plastic ends up in nature. The decision in the Basel Convention means that all exports of plastic waste – that pose a danger to the environment – is controlled more strictly. The decision entails that we get more control and knowledge about the international plastic trade,” Norwegian Minister for Climate and Environment, Ola Elvestuen (Liberals), explains.
“To reduce the amount of plastic waste in nature, this is very important, and I am pleased that Norway’s proposal gains a majority. These are the kind of tangible measures we need more of in the future – in order to solve the problem of the enormous amount of plastic littering,” Elvestuen continues.
According to a report by GRID-Arendal, only 9 to 12 per cent of the global plastic waste is recycled.
Billion dollar industry
“Global trade in plastic waste is a billion dollar industry. It has, for the time being, been without any international control. This has large consequences for the environment and people alike,” the Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment points out.
The decision means that the export of plastic waste, which is not completely ready for immediate recycling, will require a special export license. This means that countries that receive large amounts of this will be able to make bigger demands on what it consists of. Exports of plastic waste that do not go directly to recycling, must henceforth have the consent of the importing country prior to transport.
More plastic waste will be sorted and recycled
The Basel Convention regulates the treatment and international trade in hazardous and other waste. At the meeting, many developing countries have shown that they have little capacity to accept and ensure the proper handling of this waste.
After China introduced a ban on imports in 2018, the pressure to accept plastic waste has increased in some developing countries. More and more countries in Southeast Asia have introduced similar prohibitions. The changes in the Basel Convention will lead to more predictability in the market and contribute to more plastic waste being sorted and recycled.
“The authorities will now have greater national control over the international plastic trade. Developing countries will more easily be able to stop large amounts of waste that have little or no recycling value. I hope that this will also lead to an increased degree of recycling and a better market for raw materials that have been used once,” Ola Elvestuen hopes.
Norway also gains a breakthrough for establishing a completely new partnership regarding plastic waste. The partnership encompasses authorities, industry and organisations.
This will be done by promoting waste prevention, policy and regulatory development, contributing to better collection and handling of plastic waste, developing and implementing pilot projects on product design and waste management, promoting research and innovation. Especially the Norwegian deposit system has aroused great interest.
At the meeting, Norwegian dealers have secured an ambitious work program for the partnership, and a number of representatives of the international plastic industry have said they will contribute in the work.
“We have a lot to contribute from Norway in this area. I wish to invite Norwegian business players to assume a prominent role in the partnership. The partnership will, among other things, help to increase the collection of plastic waste and ensure proper handling of it, two crucial measures to reduce marine littering,” Elvestuen concludes.
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