Plastic set to be declared as a ‘hazardous waste’

Neha Basudkar
Monday, 11 February 2019

Sivaram further said, “Now, there is a discussion going on among the members states, of Basel convention whether plastic should be classified as hazardous waste. It has not been confirmed yet. They are likely to come up with their first answer in April 2019 but it’s not going to be labelled hazardous waste in April 2019 itself.”

PUNE: Plastic pollution has become a serious issue all over the world. Taking this into account, the Basel Convention is likely to soon declare plastic as a hazardous waste. 

Dr Swaminathan Sivaram, a senior scientist from New Delhi’s Indian National Science Academy and Honorary Professor at city-based Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, shared with Sakal Times that so far plastic was not considered as a hazardous waste, so there was no problem in its export-import. Now there is a discussion going on amongst the signee states of Basel convention on whether plastic should be classified as hazardous waste or not. The fact that they are already thinking about it is a real reason to worry about.

The Basel Convention is an international treaty designed to reduce the movement of hazardous waste between nations, and specifically to prevent transfer of hazardous waste from developed to less developed countries.

Sivaram further said, “Now, there is a discussion going on among the members states, of Basel convention whether plastic should be classified as hazardous waste. It has not been confirmed yet. They are likely to come up with their first answer in April 2019 but it’s not going to be labelled hazardous waste in April 2019 itself.”

He further said that the Basel convention is a United Nations (UN) convention where all countries have agreed upon  definition of hazardous waste. No country can import or export hazardous waste. If any country has hazardous waste, then it has to deal with it domestically.

“The fact that they are already thinking about it is a real reason to worry about. The fact that a group of countries (India is a signatory country in the Basel Convention) who are working on it, is a real tricky situation for India. Basel Convention is debating whether all or some plastics should be included as hazardous waster. I don’t think it is eminent, it may not be declared this year but will certainly find a place by year 2022 or 2023 as a hazardous waste. I think this is a warning about the future, as once it is declared as hazardous waste, then import-export would come to an halt.”

AT STAKE
According to Basel Convention report, during Basel Convention Conference of Parties in March, an Expert Working Group began to review legally binding annex of the Convention that pertains to what is considered hazardous materials, as well as the annex determining the disposal and recycling operations. The European Commission and government of Norway submitted a proposal to the Basel Convention to  redefine certain recycling processes as ‘treatment’ rather than recycling, and plastic waste and scrap be moved from Annex IX [wastes not covered in the Convention] to Annex II [Categories of Wastes Requiring Special Consideration or other wastes], respectively. If both proposals are adopted, it can reshape industry and how we trade scrap commodities. Europe’s definition of recycling operations is still under consideration and will only be reported to meeting participants in September 2019. Norway’s plastics proposal will be officially tabled at the meeting, and Basel Convention Members, with input from observers such as Institute of Scrap Recycling Industry, will determine whether or not to pursue a more formal consideration of the proposal.

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