24 December 2020.
The European Commission has banned the export of all hazardous and non-recyclable plastic waste to developing countries outside the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), with effect from January 1.
- It is “an important milestone in fighting plastic pollution.”
- Under the new rules, there will be stricter conditions for exporting clean, non-hazardous waste to non-OECD nations.
- EU exports within the 37-nation OECD will also be subject to prior approval by both the importing and the exporting nations.
- The new rules will be applicable to plastics shipments within the 27-member EU and are rooted in a May 2019 conference decision which binds most of the 1989 Basel Convention signatory nations.
- The change in regulations is an integral part of the EU’s Green Deal initiative.
- Green Deal initiative aims to reduce greenhouse gas emission levels by at least 55 percent by 2030.
- In 2019, a total of 1.5 million tons of the EU’s plastic waste was exported – mainly to Turkey, China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and India.
- However, the EU’s plastic waste exports to China have seen a substantial fall since the country’s 2018 ban on waste import.
- Approximately 6.3 billion tons of plastic waste have been generated since 1950, of which 12 per cent has been incinerated, less than 10 per cent recycled and nearly 80 per cent either discarded or landfilled.
How will the new rules help:
- The new rules will help achieve the EU’s goal to reduce use of plastics and facilitate sustainable disposal across Europe.
- The bloc’s new plastic strategy will see all plastic packaging be recyclable by 2030.
- A reduction in the consumption of single-use plastics and limited intentional use of microplastics.
- As the UK will no longer operate under EU rules from January 1, it will not be subject to this change in policy.
Basel Convention 1989
- The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal was signed in 1989.
- The convention was signed to reduce the movement of hazardous waste between the nations.
- As of October 2018, 186 states have signed the convention including European Union.
- United States and Haiti have signed the convention but not ratified it.
- India is a party of Basel Convention, but is yet to ratify it.
Main principles of Basel Convention
- To reduce transboundary movement of hazardous wastes
- To treat and dispose hazardous waste as close as possible to their source of generation
- To minimise hazardous waste generation at the source
Green Deal of European Union
- The Green Deal is, in the European Commission’s new growth strategy that aims to transform the EU into a fair and prosperous society, with a modern, resource-efficient and competitive economy
- Deal is to have no net emissions of greenhouse gases in 2050 and economic growth is decoupled.