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EU Promotes Greater Global Responsibility on Plastic Waste – But Not for Internal Market!

The EU promotes greater global responsibility for plastic waste-but not for the internal market!

For immediate release: Brussels, July 6, 2020

In April last year, the European Union and Norway jointly initiated an amendment to the world’s only waste treaty to establish new trade controls for the dirtiest and most unrecyclable plastic waste. These amendments are in response to numerous human rights violations and environmental pollution caused by unregulated dumping of plastic waste. Now, this kind of problematic plastic waste requires the prior consent of the importing country and is listed as "waste requiring special consideration" in Annex II of the Basel Convention.

However, last week, the European Commission officially stated in its proposed authorization regulations that the EU does not intend to fully implement these new trade control measures among its member states. This will open the door for EU waste traders to divert hard-to-recycle plastics to substandard operations in poorer EU communities, and to divert plastic waste to "waste-to-energy" incinerators in other EU countries. Burning plastic waste will destroy recycling and have terrible consequences for the climate, the environment, and a non-toxic and just circular economy.

Global and European environmental organizations* have joined forces to oppose this move and point out that the Basel Convention does not allow any reservations or exceptions to its obligations and definitions. They argued that this deviates from the current EU waste transportation regulations that faithfully include Basel Annex II waste and the requirement that trade within the EU requires prior notice and consent.

The only reason for advocating this double standard is if you have an excellent record of responsible waste trade and subsequent recycling, and you can prove that you have the same level of control as required by global regulations. But the evidence shows that this is not the case.

Said David Azoulay, a senior lawyer at the Center for International Environmental Law

Citing recent reports of dumping and incineration of plastic waste in Poland, Italy and Romania, the environmental organization also pointed out that this exception is unreasonable given the continuing trend of waste moving across the African continent to the detriment of vulnerable communities and member states.

The draft regulation will allow some plastic waste to be freely traded on the EU market without the newly agreed control measures. These plastics have recently been regulated by Annex II of the Basel Convention because they are difficult to recycle and they pose risks to human health and the environment, especially when they are burned. They include a variety of mixed plastic waste, PVC and PTFE (Teflon) waste, and a variety of non-mechanical recycled plastic waste.

Our members include recyclers and communities who make a living from so-called "waste-to-energy" incinerators. They know how much plastic waste burning can cause toxic pollution and climate hazards to the circular economy. We cannot accept a free pass that continues to happen in the European Union.

Sirine Rached is committed to achieving the European Zero Waste and Global Incinerator Alternatives Alliance.

Plastics that are difficult to recycle and contaminated are likely to end up being dumped in the open environment or incinerated, causing toxic pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Green groups claim that the proposal violates recent pledges made in the European Green Agreement, including the Circular Economy Action Plan, where the EU pledges to achieve carbon neutrality and play a leading role in plastic waste actions.

How to bend the current EU rules and set double standards for the EU to demonstrate any kind of global leadership? How will the rest of the world take the EU seriously when the EU boldly promotes it on the global stage and then ran home to spoil their waste and plastic industries?

Asked Jim Puckett of the Basel Action Network, this is a global toxic trade watchdog organization


Notes (1) Ref. Ares(2020)3286388 – 24/06/2020 (2) The European Union notified the Secretariat of the Basel Convention for the first time that it claimed that the European Union Waste Transport Regulations are Article 11 agreements. As long as such agreements are not harmful to the environment, they can run in parallel with the Convention in law. However, the refusal to control the dirty and mixed plastics now controlled by the Basel Convention is clearly not good for the environment-raising questions about the legality of the EU proposal.

Note: The EU’s proposed authorization bill aims to provide a legislative response to the most recent amendment passed at the 14th Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention in May last year. The amendments that the EU has worked hard for but now refuses to implement within its borders will take effect on January 1, 2021.

* Organizations that strongly believe that EU member states should apply the new Basel Convention Plastic Waste Amendment like all other parties to the Basel Convention include:

Media Contact:

Jim Puckett, Basel Action Network,, +1 (206) 354-0391

David Azoulay, CIEL,, +41 787 578 756

Sirine Rached, Zero Waste Europe and GAIA,, +33 6 76 90 02 80

Tim Grabiel, EIA,, +33 6 32 76 77 04

Sara Brosché, International Pollutant Elimination Network (IPEN),, +46 31 799 5900

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