WCO Asia-Pacific Plastic Waste Project Delivers Risk Management Workshop

28 April 2023

To support the eight Asia-Pacific Plastic Waste Project participating Customs Administrations in their efforts to combat the illegal trade in plastic waste, the WCO organised a risk management workshop from 26 to 28 April 2023 at the WCO headquarters in Brussels.  Under the umbrella of the WCO Asia-Pacific Plastic Waste (APPW) Project, national customs officers were trained on assessing the risks and identifying indicators that may indicate violations of the rules for cross-border shipment of plastic waste.

Practical approaches

The programme included a visit to the container terminal Maasvlakte, in the port of Rotterdam, in the Netherlands. During practical sessions, the customs officers saw how containers with plastic waste can be safely opened and handled and how the contents can be classified. In collaboration with experts from the Environment Agency of England and the Flemish Environmental Authorities, the WCO project team delivered various sessions on the rules and procedures for shipping plastic waste, case studies and examples of modus operandi. The workshop ended with a group work and a discussion among the participants on how to move forward in the design of national risk profiles and possible regional actions between the project countries to respond to illegal plastic waste trade.

Plastic trade and the role of Customs

Plastic pollution is a growing concern, with negative implications for human health and the environment. Due to its value in the global commodity market, plastic waste is sold and traded across the world, presenting challenges when unrecyclable and contaminated plastics end up in the natural and marine environment. The trade and management of plastic waste are regulated by international and national legislative instruments. Breaches of those rules could lead to improper management of plastic waste, negatively impacting ecosystems, and communities.  Customs are at the forefront of verifying compliance with rules to ship plastic waste and taking enforcement actions in case of violations.

About the Asia-Pacific Plastic Waste Project

With the financial support of the Government of Japan, the APPW Project was initiated in March 2020 and aims to strengthen the capacity of Customs administrations to mitigate and respond appropriately to environmental threats in the Asia-Pacific region, particularly on issues related to plastic waste and the illegal shipments thereof. WCO members participating in the project are the national Customs Administrations of Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam; Australia takes part as an observer in the project. The Project delivered several guidelines materials, including: a diagnostic tool as a self-assessment checklist for plastic waste, the Basel Convention section in the Environmental Guide for Front line Customs Officers, a Training Framework for Customs administrations on plastic waste, and a new chapter on plastic waste in the WCO Coordinated Border Management Compendium (CBM) introducing the core elements of the Basel Convention.

The Project will end with the organisation of a high-level Regional Workshop from May 29 to 31, 2023, in Perth, Australia.  The main topic of discussion will be the Regional Action Plan (RAP) on Plastic Waste Trade. The RAP will be presented during a joint session, at the 24th WCO A/P Regional Heads of Customs Administration (RHCA) Conference, who will also meet 29-31 May in Perth.

For more information about the APPW, please visit our APPW project webpage or contact: appw@wcoomd.org.