The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said Sept. 11 it's adopted plastic waste management rules that it called "partial progress" on dealing with exporting of scrap within its 37 member nations.
The new rules, adopted in response to last year's Basel Convention regulations banning plastic scrap exports worldwide without permission of countries receiving the materials, appear to give some clarity on shipments within the bloc.
An OECD statement, for example, said the rules create regulatory structures allowing the United States, which is not a formal signer of the Basel agreement, to be able to trade in plastic scrap within the group.
It said its decision will "provide a framework for waste trade from or to any OECD member that is not a Party to the Basel Convention, such as the United States."
OECD said its members agreed to adopt Basel rules for trade in hazardous plastic waste but could not come to a consensus around nonhazardous plastic waste such as single polymer waste streams, where recycling leaves little residue, and mixed plastic streams.
As a result, it said that there will be no OECD-specific controls on shipping of nonhazardous plastic waste. Individual nations can still retain their own rules but must make them public.
OECD is mostly made up of developed nations in North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific, but also includes Mexico, Colombia and Turkey, which became a significant destination for plastic scrap trade after China shut off imports in 2018.
An OECD summary of its rules said that one of its member nations, that it declined to identify, objected in July 2019 to automatically including the Basel decision within its rules and presented an alternative proposal.
A report by Unearthed, a climate journalism website that said it is funded by Greenpeace supporters, said the United States objected to OECD adopting all of the Basel rules. The Basel rules on plastic waste trade take effect Jan. 1.
OECD said it will review its decision around nonhazardous plastics waste trade in 2024.
The group said that about 2 percent of the 360 million metric tons of plastic waste produced globally each year is exported. It said its rules allow for trade in waste for recycling in an environmentally sound way and said allowing recycling in a country with cost advantages can help boost global recycling.