WCO conducts a successful regional workshop on the cross-border management of plastic waste

01 December 2022

From 22 to 24 November 2022, the Asia-Pacific Plastic Waste Project (APPWP), funded by the Government of Japan, successfully held a regional workshop on Risk Management and Procedures for Plastic Waste Trade at the National Customs School in Cambodia.

The workshop, attended by over 40 Customs officials and representatives of the environmental authorities, comprised in-depth and practical sessions on ways to tackle illegal trade in plastic waste and facilitate legal trade therein. The Project beneficiary countries, namely Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam, were represented at the workshop, while a representative of the Australian Border Force took part as an observer. This was the first in-person workshop gathering the eight countries since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and the related disruption. It followed on from a series of eight virtual diagnostic missions involving beneficiary administrations and from the WCO Asia-Pacific Plastic Waste Conference held in February 2022.

The workshop offered practical exercises as well as interactive sessions with presentations by representatives of the WCO, the WCO-UNODC Container Control Programme, the Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, the Basel Convention Regional Centre Indonesia, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Secretariat, the European Union Network for the Implementation and Enforcement of Environmental Law (IMPEL) and the Basel Action Network. The topics covered included the global plastic waste trade, the use of data to control shipments of plastic waste, contamination levels, risk management, dealing with illegal trade, single window approaches and Customs-to-Business partnerships.

The WCO Members participating in the APPWP presented some of their best practices for regulating the plastic waste trade. It nevertheless became clear from the discussions that the illegal importation of plastic waste remains a high risk for the Asia-Pacific region and controls need to be prioritized and streamlined in coordination with the competent authorities, as does the repatriation of illegally shipped waste. A more harmonized regional understanding of plastic waste, quality standards and permitted levels of contamination were also recommended.

In terms of the next steps, the Project will focus on developing a framework for a regional action plan and will continue to build capacity among Customs administrations. A final event is scheduled to take place in May 2023.

The WCO extends its appreciation to the General Department of Customs and Excise (GDCE) of Cambodia for the hospitality and support provided to the APPWP, granting a successful conclusion of the regional workshop.

About the Asia-Pacific Plastic Waste Project

The Asia-Pacific Plastic Waste Project (APPWP) Project aims to strengthen Customs administrations' capacity to mitigate and appropriately respond to environmental threats in the Asia-Pacific region. Particular focus is placed on implementing the Basel Convention and specifically on matters related to plastic waste and the illegal shipment thereof.

The Project initially ran from April 2020 to March 2022 (phase I) and, after being extended, is currently running from April 2022 to June 2023 (phase II).

The APPWP Project is led by the WCO Secretariat and funded by the Government of Japan.

Further information: project webpage