In response to last week's European Commision announcement that it will allow trade of problematic plastic waste within the EU, IPEN and many other global and European environmental groups have lined up to voice their opposition. Amendments last year to the Basel Convention enhanced restrictions on global trade in waste, helping smaller nations or countries without the capacity to handle that waste reject it. These amendments were passed in response to countless human rights abuses, and environmental pollution caused by unregulated plastic waste dumping. Such problematic plastic wastes now will require prior consent by importing nations. However, the Commision's ruling leaves the door open for waste traders to shunt difficult-to-recycle plastics to substandard operations in poorer EU communities, as well as plastic waste to "waste-to-energy" incinerators in other EU countries.
In its press release, the groups claim that the move undermines both the EU's commitments to carbon neutrality and a circular economy, as well as its global leadership on plastic waste.
"How does bending current EU rules and creating double standards for the EU demonstrate any kind of global leadership?" asked Jim Puckett of the Basel Action Network, a global toxic trade watchdog organization. "How is the rest of the world going to take the EU seriously when they preach boldly on the global stage and then run back home to coddle their waste and plastics industries?"