Technical guidelines

In December 2002, in relation to plastics, COP-6 adopted the Technical guidelines for the identification and environmentally sound management (ESM) of plastic wastes and for their disposal, At its fourteenth meeting by decision BC-14/13, the COP decided to update the technical guidelines on plastic wastes.

Work following COP-14

In paragraph 19 of the decision BC-14/13, the COP invited Parties to consider serving as lead countries in the updating of the technical guidelines on plastic wastes and to inform the Secretariat of their willingness to do so by 31 August 2019. China, Japan and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland have offered to co-lead the update of the technical guidelines. 

In paragraphs 20 and 21 of the same decision, the COP decided to establish a small intersessional working group (SIWG), operating by electronic means, subject to the availability of resources, through face-to-face meetings, to assist with the updating the technical guideline on plastic wastes and invited Parties and others to nominate experts to participate in the SIWG, and to inform the Secretariat of their nominations by 31 August 2019. You can find more details about the SIWG here

In paragraph 22 of the same decision, the COP requested the lead country or countries or, if there is no lead country, the Secretariat, subject to the availability of resources and in consultation with the SIWG, to prepare a draft of the updated technical guidelines on plastic wastes for consideration by the Open-ended Working Group of the Basel Convention at its twelfth meeting. The co-lead countries together with SIWG have worked on the revision and update of the technical guidelines and a draft was presented at the OEWG-12 meeting (UNEP/CHW/OEWG.12/INF/14 available on the OEWG-12 webpage).

At the OEWG-12 online segment in September 2020, an agreement was made for Parties and others to submit comments on the draft revised technical guidelines as set out in document UNEP/CHW/OEWG.12/INF/14 available on the OEWG-12 webpageComments made during the OEWG-12 online segment and following it, on the draft revised technical guidelines, are available here. 

The SIWG held its first online meeting from 14 to 18 December 2020. The SIWG agreed during the meeting that co-lead countries would revise the technical guidelines taking into account the discussions that took place during the online meeting and comments received at and following the OEWG-12 online segment. The draft updated version of the technical guidelines is available here and comments on the document are welcome by 15 July 2021. 

Comments received by 15 July 2021 will be used in the next revision of the technical guidelines, which is planned to take place before the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention (face-to-face segment in June 2022). 

Comments and/or queries should be sent to Ms. Carla Valle-Klann, Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions (Email: carla.valle at

Work before COP-14

COP have adopted the following guidelines with a reference on plastic waste, marine plastics or microplastic before COP14.

COP-11 adopted the Framework for the ESM of hazardous wastes and other wastes (decision BC-11/1). A number of guidance as well as a collection of practical tools to assist Parties and other stakeholders in ensuring ESM of hazardous and other wastes, known as “ESM Toolkit”, were developed.

COP-13 adopted Draft Guidance to assist Parties in developing efficient strategies for achieving the prevention and minimization of the generation of hazardous and other wastes and their disposal (decision BC-13/3), in which plastic waste was highlighted as a key waste stream; and welcomed Draft practical manuals on extended producer responsibility and financing systems for environmentally sound management (decision BC-13/2).

COP-13 also adopted Draft Guidance manual on how to improve the sea-land interface (decision BC-13/15) to ensure that wastes falling within the scope of MARPOL, once offloaded from a ship, are managed in an environmentally sound manner.