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COSCO Shipping Line Called Upon to Stop Illegal and Harmful Exports of Plastic Waste

Shipping giant found exporting German plastic wastes to Turkey and Vietnam

Seattle, WA. January 6, 2022. Following the seizure of 37 containers of German plastic waste from the COSCO ship COSCO PRIDE in Piraeus Greece late last year, 52 non-governmental organizations have sent a letter to the Chairman of COSCO Global to stop their exports of plastic waste, in particular to developing countries. The 37 containers were being redirected from Turkey to Vietnam via Greece until the Basel Action Network (BAN) blew the whistle to the Greek authorities who pulled them off of the ship. The Greek authorities are now waiting for Germany and COSCO to act and order the repatriation of the waste back to the German exporters.

Container Ship COSCO PRIDE, which arrived in Piraeus early the morning of November 30. It was to be loaded on December 1 with 37 containers of German Plastic Waste for Vietnam. This re-export was blocked following a warning by environmental groups.

Unfortunately, 16 of the containers holding German plastic wastes have already been exported by COSCO to Vietnam last year. Exports of such wastes by Germany to Vietnam, had they been done directly, would have likely been illegal as Germany forbids wastes collected from households to be allowed to be exported to developing countries (non-OECD countries).

Further, an additional 89 COSCO containers are believed to be detained in Turkey. It is vital that COSCO not allow these to be exported to third countries but be sent back directly to Germany in accordance with the Basel Convention rules, which require repatriation when shipments cannot be conducted in accordance with the original contract.

"We are calling on COSCO to guarantee that all of the more than 100 German containers of plastic waste, still sitting in Greece and Turkey, be returned to Turkey and in no way be allowed to be exported to Vietnam or other third country destinations," said Jim Puckett, Executive Director of the Basel Action Network (BAN). "Industry leaders like COSCO must lead in more than just profit margins. They must also serve as role models in matters of environment, social benefit, and global governance."

In sum in the letter, the environmentalists are calling on COSCO to do the following as a matter of urgency:

1. Immediately take steps to declare your willingness to assist the German government in returning the containers now in Piraeus and in Turkey back to Germany, as is called for in Article 8 of the Basel Convention. And that COSCO does fully cooperate in this repatriation of the plastic wastes.

2. Agree to announce a policy of forbidding trade of and screen all Bills of Lading in future for HS codes of 3915 (plastic waste), including subsets in all of its COSCO voyages, vessels, and leased or owned containers.

3. Take leadership and publish and publicize this policy publicly, while calling on the other major shipping lines listed in our campaign to do the same.

The letter to COSCO sent by the 52 organizations is part of a larger Shipping Lines Campaign targeting the all of the major shipping lines including COSCO, Hyundai, Hapag-Lloyd, CMA-CMG, Maersk, Hamburg Sud, MSC, and Orient Shipping, and seeking commitments from each of them to cease exporting plastic wastes. COSCO is one of the world's largest shipping companies with a fleet of 1,310 vessels.


For more information:

Jim Puckett, Executive Director of BAN


phone: +1(206) 652-5555

Attachment: Spreadsheet of COSCO shipping containers


About Basel Action Network

Founded in 1997, the Basel Action Network is a 501(c)3 charitable organization of the United States, based in Seattle, WA. BAN is the world's only organization focused on confronting the global environmental justice and economic inefficiency of toxic trade and its devastating impacts. Today, BAN serves as the information clearinghouse on the subject of waste trade for journalists, academics, and the general public. Through its investigations, BAN uncovered the tragedy of hazardous electronic waste dumping in developing countries. For more information, see