October 16, 2020 at 07:17:15 PM
CC: Mrs Florika Fink-Hooijer, Director-General of DG ENVI (Environment); and Kęstutis Sadauskas, Director for Circular Economy and Green Growth.
Dear Mr Sinkevičius,
In May 2019, the 14th Meeting of the Conference of Parties to the Basel Convention adopted groundbreaking new amendments to impose stricter controls on the trade of the most problematic plastic waste. Not only did the European Union (EU) vote in favor of this change but it also co-sponsored the amendments that were originally proposed by Norway.
However, the European Commission, through a draft Delegated Regulation, has confirmed that it does not intend to transpose the new controls for plastic waste shipments happening within the EU. As it is, such a decision would have two main detrimental effects:
At a time when the EU is showing unprecedented environmental leadership, taking such a decision would weaken the EU’s environmental leadership, while showing the rest of the world that double standards are in fact acceptable.
Furthermore, in a context where European plastic waste trade is increasing, with an alarming rise in illegal plastic waste trade, the time is not for less control and monitoring. On the contrary, the EU has to step up, with clear regulations on this issue.
A coalition of NGOs have already issued a set of recommendations to fix the current legislation. We would like to reiterate our demands once again.
A simple reference to the Council Decision (EU) 2019/638 – a decision adopted before the new Circular Economy Action Plan and its objective to create a “toxic-free environment” – is not enough.
Furthermore, article 11 of the Basel Convention only allows alternative agreements provided “they not derogate from the environmentally sound management of hazardous and other wastes as required by this Convention”. Allowing potentially hazardous plastic waste to be freely traded, not only for recycling but also for energy recovery, cannot be understood as a similar level of protection.
In a moment when the EU is showing bold environmental leadership for a circular economy, sending such contradictory messages would only have a negative effect. We therefore call on the EU not only to live up to the expectations it itself has created, but to continue to lead on these issues in the years to come.
Rethink Plastic, part of the Break Free From Plastic movement, is an alliance of leading European NGOs working towards ambitious EU policies on plastics. It brings together the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), ClientEarth, Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), European Environmental Bureau (EEB), European Environmental Citizen’s Organisation for Standardisation (ECOS), Greenpeace , Seas At Risk, Surfrider Foundation Europe, and Zero Waste Europe. Together they represent thousands of active groups, supporters and citizens in every EU Member State working towards a future free from plastic pollution.
#BreakFreeFromPlastic is a global movement envisioning a future free from plastic pollution. Since its launch in September 2016, nearly 1,900 organizations from across the world have joined the movement to demand massive reductions in single-use plastics and to push for lasting solutions to the plastic pollution crisis. In Europe alone, 90 core organizations are active in more than 30 countries. These organizations share the common values of environmental protection and social justice, which guide their work at the community level and represent a global, unified vision. Sign up at www.breakfreefromplastic.org