Participating Members agree on a proposal for a Regional Action Plan following the recommendations of the WCO Asia-Pacific Plastic Waste Project

20 June 2023

From 29 to 31 May 2023, the Asia-Pacific Plastic Waste (APPW) Project held its final meeting in the margins of the 24th WCO Asia/Pacific (A/P) Regional Heads of Customs Administrations Conference in Perth, Australia. The meeting brought together representatives of the eight participating Customs administrations (Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam) as well as observers, and discussed outcomes and possible ways forward.

The APPW Project, which began in April 2020 with the financial support of the Government of Japan, is implemented by the WCO Secretariat’s Compliance and Facilitation Directorate, as part of the WCO Environment Programme.

During the APPW Project meeting, presentations were given by the World Trade Organization (WTO), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the Basel and Stockholm Conventions Regional Centre for Southeast Asia, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Customs Enforcement and Compliance Working Group. These presentations provided food for thought for the ensuing panel discussions.

After reiterating the added value offered by the Project activities and outputs, the participants approved the recommendations for the A/P region and laid them down in a Regional Action Plan. The actions foreseen under this Regional Action Plan are structured around five main objectives:

  1. Establish a sufficient mandate and legal basis for Customs administrations to assume their responsibility in the plastic waste trade;
  2. Design a joint and uniform response to illegal trade in plastic waste, to avoid port hopping and evasive behaviour;
  3. Reduce the administrative burden and clearance times and facilitate legal trade in plastic waste and scrap;
  4. Strengthen Customs-to-Customs and Customs-to-Other Government Agencies cooperation and communication;
  5. Awareness raising and capacity building support on the provisions and regulations related to plastic waste trade.

The APPW Project was also presented at the 24th WCO A/P Regional Heads of Customs Administrations (RHCA) Conference on 31 May 2023 in Perth, Australia. The RHCA Conference welcomed the successful implementation and valuable outcomes of the Project and agreed to have the issue of the implementation of the Regional Action Plan as a standing Agenda item for future WCO A/P RHCA meetings.  

“I would like to thank the participating countries in the A/P region for their contribution to the important work on plastic waste.  The steady implementation of the Regional Action Plan would be the next step. Based on the interest expressed by Members of the region, the scope of the Project could be further expanded,” said the WCO Secretary General, Dr. Kunio Mikuriya. “The WCO considers plastic waste as an issue having a dramatic environmental impact that needs to be addressed and which falls within the “Green Customs” focus area of the WCO Strategic Plan 2022-2025,” he added.

About the APPW Project

The APPW Project 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 illegal shipments thereof.

The WCO Members participating in the Project are the national Customs Administrations of Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam, while Australia takes part as an observer. The Project has delivered several guidance materials, including a diagnostic tool serving as a self-assessment checklist for plastic waste; the Basel Convention section in the Environmental Guide for Frontline 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.

For more information, please visit our APPW project webpage or contact: