Publication on limiting marine plastic litter by regulating global waste trade

The case study “Equity Recognition: Ongoing Displacement of Plastic Waste through the Global Waste Trade” by Solène Guggisberg was recently published as part of an Ocean Nexus Equity and Marine Plastic Report entitled Towards an Equitable Approach to Marine Plastic Pollution.

This case study examines the potential and challenges of reducing marine plastic litter through the regime regulating global trade in waste products. The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal was amended in 2019 to apply, to some extent, to most types of plastics. With 188 parties and partly applicable to non-parties through the ban on trade with non-parties, one of this regime’s main strength is its quasi-global reach. However, it suffers from some loopholes such as the possibility to trade with non-parties under bilateral agreements the content of which is not subject to an international review. Implementation and enforcement are further hindered by issues of capacity, legal and technical clarity, and absence of a functioning compliance mechanism.

Even taking into account its limitations, the Basel Convention regime has a strong potential to reduce mismanaged plastic waste leaking into the oceans and to contribute to social equity between States by reducing the practice of rich countries using developing States as dumping ground under the pretense of mutually beneficial trade in waste products.

The full text of the report can be accessed online.

Towards an Equitable Approach to Marine Plastic Pollution (pdf)