Information brief on the EU correspondents’ guidelines on plastic waste entries

Background

On 10 May 2019, in an attempt to tackle the issue of plastic marine litter, the Conference of the Parties of the Basel Convention adopted at its fourteenth meeting a new regime on plastic wastes with a view to include certain types of plastic waste under the control mechanisms of the Convention. The aforementioned new regime consists of:

  • A new category for unclean, contaminated and/or mixed non-hazardous plastic waste (i.e. Y48);
  • A new code for hazardous plastic waste (i.e. A3210); and
  • A new code for clean, uncontaminated plastic waste destined for recycling (i.e. B3011) replacing the current code B3010.

The European Union (EU) and its Member States supported the above amendments to the Annexes to the Convention, on the condition that current shipment controls of non-hazardous plastic waste, including certain mixtures of non-hazardous plastic waste, within the Union and the EEA is retained.

Hence, in addition to the above listed codes, the amended WSR also introduced the following in order to retain current shipment controls for non-hazardous waste within the EU, and to address changes within the OECD Decision:

  • AC300: applicable instead of A3210 for shipments of hazardous plastic wastes within the EU and EEA, as well as shipments of such hazardous waste to and from OECD member countries. The wording of entries A3210 and AC300 is however similar, so that that this difference has no real impact in practice;
  • EU3011 and EU48: new entries for non-hazardous plastic waste in applicable for shipments within the Union and EEA, which take into account certain changes agreed under the Basel Convention while maintaining the current controls for such shipments within the said area; and
  • Point 4 in Annex IIIA to the WSR: amendment of wording in Annex IIIA relating to the categories of green-listed mixtures of plastic waste.

The above changes became effective within the EU as from the 1 January 2021

New Correspondent Guidelines on plastic waste entries

In view of the new plastic waste shipment regime, correspondents’ guidelines were drafted to representing the common understanding of all Member States on how the new plastic entries should be interpreted and thus provide a common approach within all Member States.

These guidelines were developed to provide guidance on the classification of plastic waste, notably on interpreting certain terms contained in the new plastic waste entries that were included in the WSR, in order to provide legal clarity and certainty. Most notably the guidelines:

    1. Offer guidance on how to distinguish between the different export codes (as per section 2);
    2. Set a percentage for the interpretation of the terms contained in the entries on plastic waste, i.e. the terms ‘almost exclusively consisting of’ and ‘almost free from contamination and other waste’ for B3011 and for EU3011 respectively (as per paragraph 20, 21 and 22);
    3. Provide guidance on how such percentages should be measured (as per paragraph 23);
    4. Offer guidance on the classification of hazardous plastic waste as well as POP-containing waste (as per section 4 and section 5), and
    5. Outline the applicable procedures, depending on the classification, recovery operation, and country of destination (as per section 6).

These guidelines will apply as from December 3, 2021.

Information Session

The Correspondents’ Guidelines on plastic waste can be found here

Should you be interested to participate in this information session, you are kindly requested to register from this LINK by not later than Thursday 25th November 2021.

Furthermore, you may wish to submit any queries on the following email address – era.policy@era.org.mt

16 November 2021