Norway has suggested that plastics should be added to the list of waste subject to international trade controls under the Basel Convention.
The proposal was made at the 11th Meeting of the Open-Ended Working Group of the Basel Convention, where the country's spokesperson argued that this could be a key driver in preventing marine pollution and plastic litter worldwide.
Currently, substantial amounts of plastic waste are sent abroad to Asian countries, ostensibly for recycling. However, in many cases, this scrap ends up contaminated and recipient countries often resort to burning it.
Under Norway's proposals, plastic waste would be added to Annex II and would therefore require special consideration under the Basel Convention, with notification required by exporting countries and consent by importing countries prior to its export.
Nations including Indonesia, Namibia, South Africa, Switzerland and China reportedly voiced their support for the Norwegian proposal, but it is claimed that the EU, Canada and Australia were among those that wanted alterations to the proposal or to block it altogether.
The meeting also recommended that a multi-stakeholder global partnership on the minimization of plastic waste should be created. Both proposals will now be forwarded to the 14th Conference of the Parties of the Basel Convention in time for April 2019.
Basel Action Network director Jim Puckett said: "We are thrilled that this week's meeting has clearly signaled a turning of the tide [on plastic waste]."
The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal came into effect in 1992 and imposes trade controls on hazardous wastes.