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US warns against tighter shipment rules on plastic waste

High waste shipment costs

A proposal to reclassify plastic waste as hazardous material when being shipped internationally has alarmed US recyclers.

Rules governing international hazardous waste shipments are laid out under the Basel Convention, to which the UK is a signatory. A ‘high level’ meeting of the Basel Convention to consider ways to cut down on marine plastic pollution is currently underway.

A proposal has been forward by the Norwegian government to bring plastic waste under the Convention’s rules in order to “to increase the effectiveness of the Basel Convention with regard to plastic wastes, and especially plastic wastes that lead to marine pollution”.

This could mean that shipping such material will be subject to additional regulations and restrictions.

But the US Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) has warned the move would lead to “administrative burdens for plastic scrap traders worldwide”.

The trade body said US companies that import or export plastic scrap would face severe trade restrictions because the US is not a party to the Basel Convention.

An ISRI statement read: “Adopting Norway’s plastics proposal would do more to discourage plastics recycling than it would help curb plastic waste in the oceans, and we believe recycling is part of the solution, not the problem.”

The marine litter event, held in Geneva, was jointly hosted by Norway, Indonesia, Switzerland, the UK, Northern Ireland and Uruguay.

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