Posted on 14/01/2019 in category Legislation

Will many recycling companies be forced to change their names?

The Expert Working Group (EWG) met last December in Argentina as part of its review of Annexes I, III and IV, as well as related aspects of Annex IX, to the Basel Convention. In this context, the EU has put forward proposals that have shocked recyclers, particularly in developing countries.


Changes to the Basel Convention’s Annexes will have widespread repercussions across the world as nearly all countries will change their national laws on waste to align with the Basel Convention. For example, Annex IV currently defines “what operations are recycling” and therefore “who is a recycler”.

A series of changes to Annex IV being proposed by the European Union would restrict those operations legally defined as recycling in the future. Those changes would seriously disadvantage the majority of developing countries and small island developing states around the world that only have, and depend on, their mechanical recycling operations. How will all those developing countries report on meeting their UN Sustainable Development Goals on recycling if they have no recycling?

There a thousands upon thousands of companies around the world that are currently defined as recycling operations and that proudly use the word “recycling” in their company names. If the EU gets its way, these businesses would legally no longer be recyclers. Last December at the EWG meeting, one recycling company asked whether it should remove “recycling” from its name and the EU’s response was “yes”.

Which companies that have in their name .... reciclado .... 回收 .... recyclage .... riciclaggio .... リサイクル .... 재활용 .... reciclagem .... geri dönüştürmek .... sự tái chế .... recycling .... would be forced to change those names if the EU proposals were to be agreed at the UN?

BIR calls on all its members around the world to make a polite request of their environment ministries to oppose the EU’s proposed narrowing of the legal definition of recycling at the Basel Convention.

Importantly, the scope of the Basel Convention is almost entirely determined by its Annexes; for example, waste is defined by it going to any of the operations listed in Annex IV, and hazardous waste is defined by its Annex I hazardous constituents and Annex III hazardous characteristics. The Executive Secretary of the Basel Convention sent out a letter calling for comments on the proposals by March 15 2019.