Norway Implements The 2019 “Basel Amendments” on Plastic Waste

STOCKHOLM, Dec 19, 2020::The 2019 amendments of the Basel Convention, introducing new and stronger, legally binding international control on the transboundary movements of certain types of plastic wastes, are translated into Norwegian law, just in time for the 1.1.2021 implementation deadline. The new regulatory regime will facilitate government control with environmentally sound management conditions of plastic waste. 

Norway proposed these amendments in 2019. The Norwegian minister of climate and environment, Mr. Sveinung Rotevatn states:  “It is very important that we gain better control of the environmental conditions of this international trade. Unregulated trade in plastic waste globally has caused major problems to human health and the environment, especially in developing countries. The new international regime also reduces the risks of discharge of plastic litter and microplastics to the oceans.”

The essence of the new regulatory regime is the introduction of the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) procedure under the Basel Convention to plastic waste that is mixed, polluted and generally of little recycling value.  The procedure requires the exporter to submit documentation to its national authorities proving the existence of a contract with a recipient in the importing country, ensuring that the waste will be subject to environmentally sound management at its destination. The corresponding authorities in the importing country may approve of the transport, deny import or set specific conditions. The exporting country shall not allow the transport to proceed before the importing country has given its consent. This ensures that the waste is not sent to an unknown destiny. If anything goes wrong, the exporter has a duty to re-import.

Plastic waste that is suitable for recycling may be exported without going through the PIC procedure. The Basel amendments outline in detail how to distinguish between waste inside and outside of the control category. The decision to amend the Basel Convention was made at the 14th Conference of the Parties to the Convention. The Basel Convention is a multilateral environmental agreement on waste and in particular, transboundary transport of waste. The Convention entered into force in 1992, and has 188 Parties. The US is not a Party. 

Technically, the translation of the Basel amendments on plastic waste into Norwegian law is made by Norway accepting, as an EEA country, the revised EU regulation on transboundary transports of waste implementing the plastic amendments. The revised EU regulation is stricter than the Basel Convention in one direction: The EU introduces a ban on exports of Basel-regulated plastic waste from the EU to non-OECD countries. Norway will adopt the same regime.

A consequence of new rules is that more plastic waste than today has to be notified for consent by the national authorities before export.  However, Norwegian exports of plastic waste at present are not extensive. A main category is plastic waste from households. This waste is already subject to the PIC procedure when exported from Norway. Overall, the new regime will make it easier for the environmental authorities as well as private enterprises to be ensured that plastic waste that represent an environmental risk is not mismanaged.

The fact that plastic waste suited for recycling does not require prior informed consent procedures will hopefully stimulate increased sorting of plastic waste into cleaner fractions before export, and thus support increased recycling rates and a more circular economy for plastics globally. The Norwegian Environment Agency is responsible for a four week public consultation on the revised regulation, from the 10th of November 2020. The revised regulation shall enter into force as Norwegian law 1.1.2021.

Support for Peace, Stabilisation And Development Efforts in Afghanistan

STOCKHOLM, Dec 19, 2020:: As one the world’s poorest countries, Afghanistan will continue to be an important partner for Norwegian development assistance. Norway will maintain a high level of aid until the end of 2024, and has allocated approximately NOK 650 million to development assistance and humanitarian support in 2021. The level and disbursement of our support will be determined based on the Afghan government’s efforts against corruption, among other factors. Satisfactory progress in the peace process is important’ said the Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide.

Ms Eriksen Søreide participated in the international donor conference for Afghanistan on 23-24 November. The conference took place during a period of change for Afghanistan, not least in the light of the ongoing peace negotiations between the Taliban and representatives of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in Doha, Qatar, and the prospect of a drawdown of US and NATO forces. Afghanistan remains one of the poorest countries in the world and has experienced 40 years of armed conflict. Together with allies and partners, Norway is supporting efforts to promote peace, stability and development.

‘There are grounds for cautious optimism. Our hope is that the talks will soon be able to enter a more substantive phase. A peaceful solution is crucial for sustainable development, and our support will be considered in light of progress in the Afghan peace negotiations. The talks need to move forward. It is important that a possible peace agreement safeguards what has been achieved since 2001 in areas such as democracy, human rights and gender equality.

The donor conference is intended to support the peace process and a potential peace agreement,’ says Eriksen Søreide. The conference took place virtually and was co-organised by Afghanistan, Finland and the UN. This conference is held every four years, and provides an opportunity for Afghanistan, the UN and the donor countries to take stock and discuss the way forward for development cooperation with Afghanistan. The last conference was held in Brussels in 2016.