Trading Plastic Waste in a Global Economy: Soundly Regulated by the Basel Convention?

25 September 2022

Journal of Environmental Law

Eva Romée van der Marel

View Journal Article / Working Paper

This article investigates the implications of the Basel Convention’s amendments on plastics as part of the transition to a more sustainable global plastics economy where plastic wastes are seen as a valuable resource. Key categories of plastics continue to be excluded from the Convention, provided they are destined for recycling in an ‘environmentally sound manner’ (so-called ESM recycling). The exact interpretation of ESM recycling is worthy of attention as the way in which the term is applied reveals much about the kind of plastics economy that the Convention supports, which, as shown here, continues to risk mismanagement of plastic waste abroad. This article finds that, absent sound regulation, there is a need to reimagine the role of the country of export and strengthen its responsibilities to ensure the sound management of plastic wastes abroad.