Watchdog challenges shipping companies to curb illegal waste exports • Recycling International

A total of 52 organizations around the world have called on major shipping companies to demonstrate their corporate responsibility commitments by no longer transporting plastic waste from industrialized countries to developing countries that are “ill-equipped to manage it in a sustainable way”. environmentally sound”.

Parties such as Basel Action Network (BAN) and Greenpeace have written letters to the nine largest global shipping companies: Hapag-Lloyd (Germany), Maersk (Denmark), CMA CGM (France), MSC (Switzerland), Hamburg SUD ( Germany), Hyundai Merchant Marine (Korea), Evergreen (Taiwan), COSCO (China) and Orient Shipping (Jordan), urging them to improve their plastic waste export policies. The main complaint is that these exports are very likely to be unsorted, contaminated and illegal.

On January 1, 2021, it became illegal for 187 countries, including China, Mexico, Malaysia, India and Indonesia that are parties to the Basel Convention, to receive a variety of mixed and contaminated plastic waste in from the United States and European Union countries. . Other shipments require the consent of the importing country before they can be legally transported.

However, there are concerns that these new laws alone will prevent brokers from continuing to find ways to save money by exporting plastic waste to substandard operations overseas rather than properly managing the waste. waste at source. Due to the ‘massive’ number of containers and the lack of inspection at export and import ports, campaigners fear that the unethical waste trade will continue unless major shipping companies n assume a leadership role.

Regulations systematically ignored

According to BAN data on OECD exports to developing countries, last year paints a ‘frightening picture’ with more than 1.7 billion tonnes exported from the EU, US, UK United Kingdom and Japan in the first nine months of 2020. In October 2020 alone, Malaysia received 16 shipping containers of 740 TEU (89 million kg) of plastic waste from around the world. This equates to approximately 558 shipping containers per day arriving in a single country.

Additionally, Interpol’s 2020 report on the illegal trafficking of plastic waste shows that regulations on the trade in plastic waste are “systematically and brazenly ignored” by exporters. There are fears that brokers will continue this trade even this year in defiance of the new rules, as enforcement at ports is often too lax. It is therefore considered vital that the commercial sector play a leading role in ending illegal or unsustainable trade.

“Not good for anyone”

“Exporting plastic waste to developing countries is not good for the world and not good for the maritime sector,” says Jim Puckett, executive director of the Basel Action Network (BAN). “These shipments are likely to be caught in the web of illegal trade, tracked by Interpol, seized by governments, resulting in demurrage and return charges while tarnishing the reputation of shipping companies. In sum, serving as a global pipeline for plastic pollution is not good for anyone.

“We call on shipping companies to put the health of people and the oceans above the small, short-term profits they might make by serving as a global waste dump service. With today’s campaign launch, we’ll begin our report with a dashboard showing which companies’ actions align with their larger sustainability commitments in this regard,” says Jan Dell, Founder of the Watch Group. of the plastic trade The Last Beach Cleanup.

Want to know more about waste exports? Check out this recent Basel Action Network webinar.

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