Press release

UN convention on wastes makes breakthrough recommendations to address global marine litter and other types of wastes

6th September 2018: Geneva, Switzerland - Momentum was built in Geneva this week to better address wastes including marine plastic litter and microplastics, through decisions adopted today by the Open-ended Working Group of the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal[1].

More than 400 experts from 135 countries and international organisations, including industry associations, met and today adopted a suit of decisions related to wastes, including marine plastic litter and microplastics, electronic waste, and household waste.

Additionally, a High Level Event was organised bringing together more than 70 ambassadors and heads of international organisations to further enhance the commitment for global action for marine plastic litter.

Decision, which will now be submitted to the next meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention (or COP), to be held at the end of April 2019 in Geneva, include the following:

A proposed new Partnership on Plastic Waste under the Basel Convention, designed as an international vehicle for public-private cooperation, sharing of best practices, and technical assistance in the area of at-source measures to minimise and more effectively manage plastic waste, thus helping tackle the global environmental problem of marine plastic litter;

Consideration of possible amendments to Annexes of the Convention, in relation to solid plastic waste, in order to assist Parties to better minimise and control their transboundary movement;

Further development of the Technical Guidelines on Electronic Waste (or E-waste), which are available for use by Parties to assist in implementing environmentally sound management of E-waste, which is amongst the fastest-growing waste-streams in the world, as well as consideration of options a new partnership on e-waste to follow the Partnership for Action on Computing Equipment (PACE);

Further development of the Household Waste Partnership under the Basel Convention, aiming for an integrated approach for household waste management, acknowledged as one of the key challenges related to waste management faced by national governments, particularly in developing countries;

Enhanced cooperation with World Customs Organisation to strengthen the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, used by customs authorities to improve the control of wastes crossing borders.

Finalisation of the draft Manuals on Extended Producer Responsibility, which when completed can assist Parties with concrete actions for promoting the life-cycle approach in the manufacturing of products through to recycling.

Speaking today shortly before closing, the meeting’s Co-Chairs Mr. Mohamed Kashashneh (Jordan) and Ms. Justina Grigaraviciene (Lithuania) congratulated the Parties on reaching what they deemed to be “an historical outcome regarding marine plastic litter and microplastics. This and other decisions taken this week will bring the Basel Convention to a new era of effectiveness in helping Parties minimize and sustainably manage their wastes.”

Reflecting upon both the OEWG11 and the High Level Event, Rolph Payet, Executive Secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions, said that the decisions of the OEWG11, combined with heightened international commitment “constitute an important step in addressing the technical, legal, and political dimensions of the problem of marine plastic litter and pollution from other hazardous wastes. These three dimensions reinforce one another and are all vital for tackling such a ubiquitous and significant set of issues and challenges.”.

Meetings continue with the organisation of the 13th Meeting of the Basel Convention’s Implementation and Compliance Committee (ICC13) back-to-back with OEWG11, at which progress is expected on a range of relevant legal questions. Details of decisions taken at ICC13 will be posted on the BRS website in due course.

For further information:

Susan Wingfield
Programme Officer, for OEWG-11
Tel: +41-22-9178406

Juliette Voinov Kohler
Legal officer, for ICC-13
Tel: +41-22-9178219

BRS Press Enquiries

Charlie Avis
Public Information Officer 
Tel: +41-79-7304495


[1] The Basel  Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Waste and their Disposal is the most comprehensive international environmental agreement on hazardous and other wastes and is almost universal, with 186 Parties. For more information, see