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How to promote the recycling of waste plastics by means of trade? World Economic Forum leads experts from all walks of life to guide the future
Time: 2020-7-31 16:39:15 Source:绿凯思科GETRECYCLING Author:GET营销中心 Hits:47

During the outbreak, various actions against plastic pollution have been slowed down, but the world economic forum believes that the road to circular economy can be rebuilt from a new level. The world economic forum recently convened a group of experts from consumer goods brands, industries, governments and civil society organizations to discuss the role of trade in promoting action against plastic pollution. After preliminary cross-border discussions, a joint document was released yesterday, pointing out trade barriers to accelerate plastic pollution and suggestions for future solutions.


What factors hinder the regeneration of waste plastics?


The use of recycled plastics is hindered by national ban and slow approval


National laws and regulations determine which commodities can enter the market. In addition to banning the import of waste plastics, some countries have implemented more complicated regulations on the import of high-quality recyclable plastics, thus limiting the use of recycled plastic packaging. At the same time, because recycled plastics of the same quality are not available on the market, manufacturers have to switch to primary plastics. In addition, the slow regulatory approval process for the use of recycled plastics products in some markets has also affected the use of recycled plastics.



Different standards make closed-loop supply chain more complex


In the same value chain, the differences of standards also bring about various difficulties, whether in the production, use or the expression of label information of recycled plastics. Plastic manufacturers producing different grades of plastics require recyclers to create different grades of recycled plastics, which will lead to increased costs. At the same time, some additives will bring harm to human and ecological health in the process of physical recovery. If the information of material composition is missing, the recycling process will become more complex.


In addition, due to the lack of traceability and data shortage, it is impossible to track the materials on the market, especially recycled materials, resulting in increased market uncertainty.


Global investment in closed-loop plastics is insufficient


The research shows that one of the challenges of building a recycling plastics economy is the lack of investment in upstream and downstream, both emerging and developed economies are facing the same dilemma. Therefore, it is necessary to incubate and expand innovative projects, develop emerging enterprises, including new material design and new business models, and narrow the operating capital gap of urban waste collection and recovery system, and provide capital investment for realizing wider closed-loop selection and waste management.


At the same time, different regulatory environment, infrastructure and technology, incentives, government procurement policies and overall investment assistance may slow down or accelerate the investment in recycled plastics. For example, by matching public and private financing for solution providers, promoting and attracting investment in sustainable plastic solutions by funding stakeholders will also help to narrow the gap.



The process of trade is complicated


Since 2021, most of the waste plastic transactions are subject to the Basel Convention's prior informed consent (PIC) procedure as a regulated transaction. However, some countries still lack the ability to effectively review and process prior informed consent (PIC) notifications. In many cases, documents and documents are still paper, which can lead to long delays.


Three trade outlets of waste plastic recycling


So what role can trade policy and capacity-building play in addressing these challenges? The WEF discussion group made suggestions for further exploration in the following three areas, supplemented by regulatory cooperation:


Improve cross border trade measures


We have improved the harmonized system, which is a kind of international trade goods classification. The purpose of the customs code classification has not yet distinguished the plastic wastes that are difficult to recover and easy to recover, and has not classified the primary plastics and recycled plastics. By improving the classification of customs code, it will help to define the waste plastics to be traded and adjust the policy. The proposed amendments in this regard are being drafted by the Secretariat of the Basel Convention. For example, trade in recyclable plastics can be promoted by lower tariffs on certain types of plastics. At the same time, countries can ban the export of plastics which have been restricted in their own countries, so as to avoid dumping of low-quality materials in foreign markets.


To establish a link between the capacity-building of the WTO Agreement on trade facilitation (TFA) and the digitization of the Basel prior informed consent (PIC) process. At present, countries have intended to use electronic and automatic notification to meet the requirements of PIC, but they must avoid running both electronic and paper systems at the same time.


Work can also be carried out among countries and enterprises to find out the institutional loopholes that lead to illegal dumping trade of waste plastics. As a platform for key industry leaders and decision makers, the world economic forum's global partnership for action on plastics (GpAp) project will also pay close attention to how this cooperation can be promoted.



Promoting domestic trade equity


Some policies in border areas will have an impact on investment decisions and capital flows. Through trade commitments, foreign service providers can provide recycling services in the local market and give them the same treatment as domestic enterprises, so as to participate in competition on an equal footing. At the same time, we should actively carry out investment work, including providing financial or policy support for manufacturers and consumers of recycled plastics.


Trade policies can be used to promote international standards agreements for the relevant regions as guidelines for domestic regulatory initiatives, so as to avoid discrimination and promote synergy.


Enhance transparency


Transparency of domestic measures is essential for enterprises to participate in trade and develop cross-border markets. Countries can agree, through the global WTO or other institutions, to share information on trade measures, sustainability standards related to plastics production, waste and recycling.


Data sharing on recovery rates, as well as monitoring and analysis of global trends in recycled plastics production, will also be helpful. Similarly, it is necessary to improve the trade and cross-border flow of plastics and waste plastics at the level of improving the classification of customs codes.


Internal measures such as investment facilitation measures can promote the development of circular plastics economy. Building a regulatory environment with high transparency, consistency and low risk will also promote market investment in developing and developed economies, and will strengthen market investment in internal waste management facilities.


Improving transparency through data collection and regulation is key - a key area of concern for the GpAp platform. The establishment of publicly accessible digital systems for cross-border plastic flows will enable governments to better deal with illegal trade and provide more accurate statistics on plastics collection and recovery.


Global trade facilitation measures are crucial


In the context of global value chain and market integration, both existing and potential cross-border cooperation is a crucial part of dealing with plastic pollution. In the past, plastic recycling was mainly related to export, and the vast majority of waste plastics went to China. However, due to the large amount of garbage dumped and the lack of infrastructure construction, the garbage could not be properly treated, which caused social disputes.



In May 2019, 187 parties to the Basel Convention agreed to bring waste plastics under the control of the Basel Convention.


According to the Basel Convention, the classified, clean, pollution-free and recyclable waste plastics can be freely traded from 2021, while the exporting country must obtain the consent of the receiving country before transporting the contaminated, mixed or non recyclable plastic waste.


These changes can improve the management of waste plastics and reduce environmental pollution. However, if there is no further cooperation, it may lead to Global trade conflicts, which will hinder the development of global plastic recycling market. Although this contradiction has not been revealed yet, it is obviously not paid enough attention to how to reduce waste plastic pollution and strengthen the global trade facilitation measures of waste plastic recycling.


The WEF believes that the government can use a range of different trade tools to promote these initiatives. Globally, some WTO members believe that new initiatives need to be launched, while free trade agreements (FTA) are another option. At the same time, regulatory cooperation is essential, whether in standard setting, material handling rules or chemical governance. Trade policy can promote the scale of plastic upstream and downstream circular economy. Countries should seize these opportunities to restart the global economy and achieve sustainable development.

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