In May 2019, 187 countries—excluding the United States—agreed on further action based on the Norwegian-initiated Basel Convention, aiming to bring plastic waste under scrutiny and control. Despite supported worldwide, the convention might still be subject to certain limits since the single largest plastic waste producer, the US, refused to be a part of it and the grand but vague wordings in the convention did not specify concrete actions. IPEN, an NGO aspiring to eliminate all persistent organic pollutants, co-organized the webinar with BAN to review the policies outlined in the convention and point out potential impact opportunities for NGOs across the world.
The Basel Convention includes both soft and hard laws, the former indicating non-binding obligations and the latter implying strict restrictions. The hard law prohibited the export or import of hazardous waste among non-party countries, with a huge exception of OECD members. This would allow the US to export its toxic waste to weaker economies such as Mexico and Turkey. Speakers further drew a comparison between the Stockholm Convention and the Basel Convention, which highlighted a lack of amendments to the categorization of plastic waste.
For NGOs to take actions to better curtail plastic waste, suggestions were made as to where efforts could be more influential. On the export end, firstly, endeavors should center on reviewing “clean” plastic, tracking sources, and pushing through national policies on banning such waste. On the action side, NGOs should raise public awareness among producers, consumers, and decision makers while promoting the monitoring of toxic production and recycling. Lastly, the cruciality of collective actions call for NGOs to forge strong partnerships with the business sector for better cooperation.
Meeting: IPEN Global Policy Briefing: The 2019 Basel Convention Outcomes on Plastics (webinar)
Date/Location: Wednesday, June 26th, 2019; 1:00-2:00
Mr. Joe DiGangi, senior adviser, International POPs Elimination Framework (IPEN)
Mr. Jim Puckett, founder and director, Basel Action Network (BAN)
Written By: WIT Representative Yung-Hsuan Wu