New changes to Basel Convention Regulations
Regulation 2020/2174 to modify n. 1013/2006 on plastic waste management.
"Basel Convention on the control of transboundary movements of hazardous wastes and their disposal", also known as the Basel Convention, was enacted to reduce the international movement of hazardous waste between nations, avoiding the transfer of dangerous waste from developed to developing countries. The treaty aims indeed to ensure the ecological waste management to be as close as possible to the source of generation.
It was adopted by the Conference of the Parties on March 22, 1989, and it entered into force on March 5, 1992. As far as countries are concerned, starting from 2015, the European Union and other 182 States belonged to the Convention, while Haiti and the United States signed the convention but did not ratify it.
The last adjustment to the declaration has been the “Delegated Regulation (EU) 2020/2174” of the 18th of October 2020, thought to be necessary for updating the 2006 Regulation. The new rules started to be effective from 1 January 2021, consisting of the adoption of three amendments to the Annexes II, VIII and IX to the Convention.
Entry A3210 for the hazardous plastic waste was inserted via the first amendment to Annex VIII. It clarifies the range of plastic wastes presumed to be hazardous and therefore subject to the Prior Informed Consent, or PIC procedure.
Entry B3011, introduced via the amendment to Annex IX, replaced the existing entry B3010 clarifying the types of plastic wastes that are presumed not to be hazardous.
Plastic wastes belonging to the former entry B3010 were the following:
Scrap plastic of non-halogenated polymers or copolymers, cured waste resins or condensation products and certain fluorinated polymer wastes or mixtures of them;
Not mixed with other wastes;
Not contaminated by other materials to an extent which increases the risks associated with the waste sufficiently to render it appropriate for submission to the procedure of prior written notification and consent. The level of contamination must not also prevent the recovery of the waste in an environmentally sound manner.
With the update, wastes categorised as B3011 are thus not subject to the PIC procedure; the list includes:
Plastic wastes and mixtures consisting of polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), polyethylene terephthalate (PET) provided that they are destined for separate recycling of each material, in an environmentally sound manner, and almost free from contamination and other types of wastes;
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC);
Urea, formenolic, melamine-formaldehyde, epoxy and alkyl resins;
Selected fluorinated polymers (FEP, PFA, MFAPVF, PVDF, PTFE), only in the case the waste is destined for recycling, in an environmentally sound manner, and almost free from contamination and other types of wastes.
With the third amendment to Annex II, entry Y48 comes in. It includes:
Plastic wastes destined for energy recovery or that cannot be recycled by R3 (which includes gasification and pyrolysis using the components as chemicals, but it cannot comprise burning wastes for heat recovery);
Mixtures of plastic wastes different from mixtures of PP, PE and PET, destined for separate recycling of each material in an environmentally sound manner, being almost free from contamination and other types of waste;
Plastic wastes contaminated with other non-hazardous wastes;
Plastic wastes that are not non-halogenated polymers, cured resins or fluorinated polymers such as PVC.
Entry Y48 in Annex II to the Basel Convention must be treated in the same way as Y46 and Y47 present in the former regulation. If not, this could lead to import-export bans from and to OECD countries, together with congestions of the competent authorities.
Entry Y46 refers to household wastes;
Entry Y47 concerns the residues from the incineration of household wastes.
Special consideration is therefore required for entry Y48, subject to the PIC procedure. This category has the purpose of covering plastic waste, including their mixtures unless these are dangerous or presumed to be dangerous. In the first case, they would fall in the category of A3210, while in the second case they would fall under the category of B3011.
The newly added plastic entries in the Basel Convention are not very specific, so further explanations and definitions are needed. For instance, there would be a necessity of defining “almost free of contamination” in percentage of the degree of contamination and of what type of contamination.
In order to ensure an appropriate level of accuracy, such elucidations would be instrumental for waste shipments approvals and inspections, to also harmonize different national interpretations that usually increase the legal uncertainty of operators.
REGOLAMENTO DELEGATO (UE) 2020/2174 DELLA COMMISSIONE del 19 ottobre 2020.
REGOLAMENTO (CE) N. 1013/2006 DEL PARLAMENTO EUROPEO E DEL CONSIGLIO del 14 giugno 2006 relativo alle spedizioni di rifiuti.