Russ LaMotte Quoted in Washington Lawyer on Basel Convention Plastics Amendment

Principal Russ LaMotte (Washington, DC) was quoted in the March/April issue of Washington Lawyer, the District of Columbia Bar magazine, in an article titled “Climate Actions Coming in 2020.” The article considers several high-level environmental initiatives, including an amendment to the 1989 Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal. The amendment, proposed in 2018 and passed in May 2019, adds mixed and contaminated plastic waste to the list of materials covered by the convention.

“The negotiations moved at lightning speed in the context of the Basel Convention, but even in the context of any multilateral environmental agreement that I have ever participated in,” said Russ.

In 2020 the Basel Convention parties will follow up on the plastics provisions with specified guidance for the transboundary movements of plastics. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), a group of 36 developed countries, has also pledged to complete in 2020 a transnational plastics agreement in accord with the Basel Convention’s provision. The United States, not a party to the Basel Convention but an OECD member, would therefore have its plastic waste trade fall under the OECD plastics regime.

Russ suggested that lawyers following plastics on the international level should consider other matters, such as advocacy within the United Nations Environment Assembly for a separate plastics treaty, and also the Basel Convention’s impact on the ability of many companies to fulfill ambitious circular economy plans, which rely on access to more recycled plastics for making new products.

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