Press Releases

Online Segment of 2021 Triple COPs successfully concludes with key decisions adopted

More than 1,300 representatives from more than 160 countries agree key decisions to keep work towards sound management of chemicals and waste on track.

Online Segment of 2021 Triple COPs successfully concludes with key decisions adopted

Online Segment of 2021 Triple COPs successfully concludes with key decisions adopted
 
2021 Triple COPs convened online with more than 1,000 delegates, 26 to 30 July

Read the official press release as more than 150 countries join the online segment of the 2021 meetings of the Conferences of Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam, & Stockholm conventions.

2021 Triple COPs convened online with more than 1,000 delegates, 26 to 30 July

2021 Triple COPs convened online with more than 1,000 delegates, 26 to 30 July
 
Climate change and chemicals & waste combine to threaten biodiversity

New joint report by the BRS and Minamata conventions secretariats released to mark World Environment Day.

Climate change and chemicals & waste combine to threaten biodiversity

Climate change and chemicals & waste combine to threaten biodiversity
 
BRS and Minamata convention secretariats release “Key Insights” from joint study linking chemicals and waste and biodiversity

As the world marks International Biodiversity Day on 22 May, read the joint BRS/Minamata Press Release and find out more about this ground-breaking study.

BRS and Minamata convention secretariats release “Key Insights” from joint study linking chemicals and waste and biodiversity

BRS and Minamata convention secretariats release “Key Insights” from joint study linking chemicals and waste and biodiversity
 
The Basel Convention Plastic Waste Partnership and the BRS Secretariat launch a new wave of practical pilot projects on better managing plastic waste

The Basel Convention Plastic Waste Partnership and the Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions (BRS) are moving forward with the roll-out of over 50 pilot projects across the world. The initiative fosters the introduction of practical innovations to policymaking in the form of changes to business-as-usual prompted by the Basel Convention’s Plastic Waste Amendments, which became effective on 1 January this year.

The Basel Convention Plastic Waste Partnership and the BRS Secretariat launch a new wave of practical pilot projects on better managing plastic waste

The Basel Convention Plastic Waste Partnership and the BRS Secretariat launch a new wave of practical pilot projects on better managing plastic waste

Geneva, 6th April 2021: The Basel Convention Plastic Waste Partnership and the Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions (BRS) are moving forward with the roll-out of over 50 pilot projects across the world. The initiative fosters the introduction of practical innovations to policymaking in the form of changes to business-as-usual prompted by the Basel Convention’s Plastic Waste Amendments, which became effective on 1 January this year.

The urgency for tackling plastic waste pollution was noted at the recent UN Environment Assembly, held in Nairobi and online. “Tackling chemical pollution and waste is a critical journey in finding solutions for climate change and biodiversity,” noted BRS Executive Secretary Rolph Payet during the Leadership Dialogues of the fifth United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-5). Payet went on to urge governments and the international community to ensure that “building back better” after the COVID-19 pandemic does not revert to “building back the same”.

Many projects are kicked off through the framework of the Basel Convention Plastic Waste Partnership, a new platform comprising more than a hundred actors from governments, private sector and civil society organisations collectively seeking solutions to the plastic pollution crisis. Yet more pilots are funded through the Convention’s Small Grants Programme, developed to build local capacities in addressing plastic waste through the implementation of the Basel Convention.

Overall, the projects focus on the environmentally sound management of plastic waste, the prevention and minimization of the generation of plastic waste, and the control of transboundary movements of plastic waste. They represent an excellent vehicle to usher in practical considerations brought on by the implementation of the Plastic Waste Amendments, accelerating efforts to ensure waste plastics are only traded with countries that have the necessary infrastructure to allow for the environmentally sound management of plastic waste.

The BRS Secretariat is grateful to the governments of France, Germany, Norway and Switzerland, together with the Norwegian Agency for Development (Norad) and the Norwegian Retailer’s Environment Fund, for providing financial resources to enable these projects to be rolled out across the world.

The Plastic Waste Partnership co-Chairs Ole Thomas Thommesen (Norway) and Ross Bartley (Bureau of International Recycling) expressed their confidence that “this initial number of pilot projects will go a long way in generating practical solutions and knowledge-sharing, and ultimately support countries to become more self-sufficient when it comes to managing plastic waste locally.”

NOTES for EDITORS:

The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal is the most comprehensive international environment treaty on hazardous and other wastes and is almost universal, with 188 Parties. With an overarching objective of protecting human health and the environment against the adverse effects of hazardous wastes, its scope covers a wide range of wastes defined as hazardous based on their origin and/or composition and characteristics, as well as three types of waste defined as “other wastes”, namely household waste, residues arising from the incineration of household wastes ash and certain plastic wastes requiring special consideration. For more info see www.basel.int

The Basel Convention Plastic Waste Partnership (PWP) currently has more than 100 members from government, civil society and the private sector, and four project groups through which pilot projects and other activities, including public awareness and outreach, are implemented. For more on the PWP see: http://www.basel.int/tabid/8096  

The Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions, or BRS Secretariat, supports Parties implement the three leading multilateral environment agreements governing chemicals and waste management, in order to protect human health and the environment. See www.brsmeas.org for more information and follow the @brsmeas twitter feed for daily news.

Contacts

For technical questions on plastic waste, contact:
Kei Ohno Woodall, Programme Officer, BRS Secretariat, Kei.ohno@un.org Tel: +41-79-2333218

For Plastic Waste Partnership enquiries, contact:
Susan Wingfield and Melisa Lim, Programme Officer, BRS Secretariat, susan.wingfield@un.org and melisa.lim@un.org

For enquiries related to the Plastic Waste Amendments, contact:
Melisa Lim and Yvonne Ewang, melisa.lim@un.org and Yvonne.ewang@un.org

For media enquiries, interviews, & more information, contact:
Charlie Avis: Public Information Officer, BRS Secretariat, Charles.avis@un.org Tel: +41-79-7304495

Big Year for chemicals & waste continues as UN experts take steps to recommend eliminating UV-328

Read the BRS Press Release summarising the outcomes of the 16th meeting of the Stockholm Convention’s POPs Review Committee, 11-16 January 2021.

Big Year for chemicals & waste continues as UN experts take steps to recommend eliminating UV-328

Big Year for chemicals & waste continues as UN experts take steps to recommend eliminating UV-328
 
World’s first global, legally-binding measures on curbing plastic waste become effective for 186 States

The Basel Convention’s Plastic Waste Amendments become effective on 1 January 2021, changing the way plastic waste is traded, to better protect human health and the environment.

World’s first global, legally-binding measures on curbing plastic waste become effective for 186 States

World’s first global, legally-binding measures on curbing plastic waste become effective for 186 States
 
International Mountains Day marked as countries prepare for expanded control of plastic waste

The Basel Convention’s Plastic Waste Amendments become effective on New Year’s Day 2021, giving new impetus to the protection of mountains and other regions from plastic waste pollution.

International Mountains Day marked as countries prepare for expanded control of plastic waste

International Mountains Day marked as countries prepare for expanded control of plastic waste
 
Sound management of chemicals and waste a prerequisite for turning the tide on biodiversity loss

Joint press release from the BRS and Minamata convention secretariats on the occasion of the UN Summit on Biodiversity.

Sound management of chemicals and waste a prerequisite for turning the tide on biodiversity loss

Sound management of chemicals and waste a prerequisite for turning the tide on biodiversity loss

Geneva, Switzerland; 30 September 2020 - All eyes are on biodiversity today, as the UN Summit on Biodiversity brings together the international community in the name of stemming the tide of biodiversity loss worldwide. With biodiversity loss occurring at an unprecedented rate, we are called upon to recognise not only our common global duty to halt the destruction of our natural world, but also to act where we are, and where we can, to safeguard and restore the life-supporting functions of our Planet.

The Basel (1989), Rotterdam (1998), Stockholm (2001), and Minamata (2013) Conventions were agreed in order to manage and reduce the harmful impacts of hazardous chemicals and wastes on the environment and on human health. While focused on chemicals and wastes management, each of these Conventions also decidedly contributes to the overall protection of biological diversity and the range of goods and services provided by our Planet’s ecosystems.

Pollution is widely accepted as one of the main drivers of biodiversity loss. Pollution might be experienced as plastics or pesticides choking life in our rivers and oceans, or as industrial chemicals such as PCBs and PFOS, taken up by living organisms and accumulating up the food-chain, causing multiple damages such as endocrine disruption and neurotoxicity, or as wastes dumping or open burning, poisoning our soils, freshwater and air, or as mercury dramatically affecting the health of small-scale gold miners. Common to each of these examples of unsustainable use of chemicals and wastes, is the almost irreparable damage done to the ecosystems and to Nature’s ability to thrive and to contribute to the well-being of people. 

As independent and  legally binding instruments, the four Conventions provide for specific means to achieve their respective objectives, including by setting obligations for their respective Parties to control or reduce harm to human health and the environment stemming from the production, use, trade and disposal of the covered chemicals and wastes. Since they contribute to a greater whole, their full implementation makes a significant, and vital contribution to the protection of the environment and biodiversity, and overall, to the health and well-being of people.

As a contribution to efforts to protect biodiversity, the secretariats of the four conventions have joined forces to develop an exploratory study highlighting the pollutants regulated by the four Conventions and their impacts on biodiversity. Based on existing scientific knowledge, the sound management of these pollutants under our Conventions will undoubtedly result in improvements to the state of biodiversity. The study will be launched at the 5th Session of the United Nations Environment Assembly, convening in 2021, in the run-up to the Conferences of the Parties of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions (July 2021), the Conference of the Parties of the Minamata Convention (November 2021), as well as the Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity convening to adopt the Global Biodiversity Framework, in late 2021.

For further information on the work of the Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions: www.brsmeas.org

Contact: Katarina Magulova (tel: +41-22-9178170; email: Katarina.magulova@brsmeas.org )

For further information on the work of the Secretariat of the Minamata Convention: www.mercuryconvention.org

Contact person: Claudia ten Have, Senior Policy and Coordination Officer (tel: +41-22-9178638; email: claudia.tenhave@un.org )

Press Release: Basel Convention’s Open-ended Working Group meeting (online segment) concludes successfully

More than 600 experts from more than 100 countries participate at online segment of OEWG-12.

Press Release: Basel Convention’s Open-ended Working Group meeting (online segment) concludes successfully

Press Release: Basel Convention’s Open-ended Working Group meeting (online segment) concludes successfully

Geneva, 3 September 2020 - With the quantity of hazardous waste entering the environment very likely to be increasing due to the worldwide COVID19 pandemic, and an estimated 1000 million tonnes of plastic waste entering landfills or the environment by 2050, more than 600 participants from more than 120 countries came together online this week to discuss ways to minimise, and soundly manage, hazardous and other waste covered by the UN Basel Convention across the world.

The meeting, of a subsidiary body to the UN Basel Convention known as the Open-ended Working Group, was convened by the Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions (BRS Secretariat) and took place online, with a follow-up face-to-face segment of the meeting also planned back-to-back with the next UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-5) meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, in March 2021*.

The Basel Convention, which has almost universal coverage with 188 Parties, is the most comprehensive legally-binding multilateral environment agreement governing transboundary movements of hazardous and other waste. Waste streams included in this legal framework include electronic waste, plastic waste, and medical waste.

Key outcomes from the meeting included updates and inputs from Parties and Observers into a range of technical, strategic and legal work including the various products of the intersessional processes (draft reports, manuals, technical guidelines, guidance & recommendations). Finalised intersessional products will be considered at the face-to-face segment of the meeting mentioned above, and the fifteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention scheduled for Geneva in July 2021.

“Despite the massive challenges society faces now not just from climate change but also from COVID-19, global environmental governance with respect to sound management of waste is alive and well. Perhaps never before has the importance of multilateral agreements and concerted, coordinated, globally agreed actions towards a healthy planet been so pressing and so visible. I’m proud of the steps the Basel Convention’s 188 Parties took this week and look forward to working with them to secure a healthier and safe environment for all” commented the Rolph Payet, Executive Secretary of the Basel Convention.

On plastic waste specifically, Payet went on to add “I applaud the efforts of countries that are tackling the challenge of plastic wastes heads on, for instance by legislating accordingly, I applaud also all stakeholders that support countries in their efforts, and I urge responsible behaviour by producers, traders and consumers alike. So I renew my call for all Parties to the Convention to uphold their commitment and continue to further strengthen efforts to reduce single use plastics, to ensure plastics enter into appropriate recycling systems and avoid dumping into the environment, in particular in developing country Parties.’

Notes editors:

The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal is the most comprehensive international environment treaty on hazardous and other wastes and is almost universal, with 188 Parties. With an overarching objective of protecting human health and the environment against the adverse effects of hazardous wastes, its scope covers a wide range of wastes defined as hazardous based on their origin and/or composition and characteristics, as well as two types of waste defined as “other wastes”, namely household waste and residues arising from the incineration of household wastes ash. For more info see www.basel.int

The Basel Convention offers avenues for all States to take collective action towards minimising plastic waste generation at source and promoting environmentally sound management. The last meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP), 29 April to 10 May 2019 in Geneva, in addition to its decision to amend the Annexes to the Convention as they relate to plastic wastes[1] which become effective on 1 January 2021; decided upon a range of further actions to better address plastic wastes,[2] including the establishment of a new Partnership on Plastic Waste. More on plastic waste here:

http://www.basel.int/Implementation/MarinePlasticLitterandMicroplastics/Overview/tabid/6068/Default.aspx

The Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions, or BRS Secretariat, supports Parties implement the three leading multilateral environment agreements governing chemicals and waste, in order to protect human health and the environment. See www.brsmeas.org for more info and follow the @brsmeas twitter feed for daily news.

Media enquiries, interviews, more information, contact:

Charlie Avis: Public Information Officer, BRS Secretariat

Charles.avis@brsmeas.org Tel: +41-79-7304495



* Subject to the availability of resources and a positive development of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) situation

BRS Secretariat urges sound management of medical and household waste as part of COVID-19 response

Read the Secretariat’s Press Release on the need to prioritise waste management during the COVID-19 outbreak.

BRS Secretariat urges sound management of medical and household waste as part of COVID-19 response

BRS Secretariat urges sound management of medical and household waste as part of COVID-19 response

Geneva, 20 March 2020 - With the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic continuing to spread and its impacts upon human health and the economy intensifying day-by-day, governments are urged to treat waste management, including of medical, household and other hazardous waste, as an urgent and essential public service in order to minimise possible secondary impacts upon health and the environment.

During such an outbreak, many types of additional medical and hazardous waste are generated, including infected masks, gloves and other protective equipment, together with a higher volume of non-infected items of the same nature. Unsound management of this waste could cause unforeseen “knock-on” effects on human health and the environment. The safe handling, and final disposal of this waste is therefore a vital element in an effective emergency response.

Effective management of biomedical and health-care waste requires appropriate identification, collection, separation, storage, transportation, treatment and disposal, as well as important associated aspects including disinfection, personnel protection and training. The UN Basel Convention’s Technical Guidelines on the Environmentally Sound Management of Biomedical and Healthcare Wastes, includes information and practical aspects of waste management useful for authorities seeking to minimise hazards to human health and the environment.

Further resources on the safe handling and final disposal of medical wastes can be found on the website of the Basel Convention’s Regional Centre for Asia and the Pacific, in Beijing, which lists a series of guidance documents and best practices at: http://bcrc.tsinghua.edu.cn/en/col/1257152450718/index.html

The safe management of household waste is also likely to be critical during the COVID-19 emergency. Medical waste such as contaminated masks, gloves, used or expired medicines, and other items can easily become mixed with domestic garbage, but should be treated as hazardous waste and disposed of separately. These should be separately stored from other household waste streams and collected by specialist municipality or waste management operators. Guidelines on the specificities of recycling or disposing of such waste is given in detail in the Basel Convention’s Factsheet on Healthcare or Medical Waste, at: http://www.basel.int/?tabid=5839

Parties to the Basel Convention are currently working on a guidance document for soundly managing household waste and whilst not yet finalized, an initial draft may be consulted for provisional guidance: http://www.basel.int/?tabid=8227

The BRS Executive Secretary, Rolph Payet, stated that “All branches of society are coming together to collectively beat the virus and to minimize the human and economic impact of COVID-19 across the world. In tackling this enormous and unprecedented challenge, I urge decision-makers at every level: international, nationally, and at municipal, city and district levels, to make every effort to ensure that waste management, including that from medical and household sources, is given the attention - indeed priority - it requires in order to ensure the minimization of impacts upon human health and the environment from these potentially hazardous waste streams.”

Notes for Editors:

The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal is the most comprehensive international environmental agreement on hazardous and other wastes and is almost universal, with 187 Parties. With an overarching objective of protecting human health and the environment against the adverse effects of hazardous wastes, its scope covers a wide range of wastes defined as hazardous based on their origin and/or composition and characteristics, as well as two types of waste defined as “other wastes”, namely household waste and incinerator ash. For more info see: www.basel.int

The Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions, or BRS Secretariat, services the three leading multilateral environment agreements governing hazardous chemicals and waste, in order to protect human health and the environment. See www.brsmeas.org for more info and follow the @brsmeas twitter feed for daily news.

For BRS conventions general media enquiries see: www.brsmeas.org or contact:

Charlie AVIS,
BRS Public Information Officer,
Geneva +41-79-730-4495

Governments, industry, civil society and UN join forces to beat plastic waste pollution

The first meeting of the Basel Convention’s new Plastic Waste Partnership concluded successfully in Seychelles, 5 March 2020. Read the outcomes summarised in the BRS Press Release.

Governments, industry, civil society and UN join forces to beat plastic waste pollution

Governments, industry, civil society and UN join forces to beat plastic waste pollution

Geneva, 5 March 2020 - With an estimated 100 million tonnes of plastic waste in the oceans, 80-90% of which comes from land-based sources[1], a new Plastic Waste Partnership, established by the Basel Convention, has met for the first time to discuss ways to prevent, minimise, and soundly manage, plastic waste from across the world.

The meeting, convened by the Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions (BRS) and hosted by the Seychelles Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change, gathered more than 100 representatives from members of the Partnership, in Seychelles from 2 to 5 March 2020.

At the opening of the meeting, Norwegian Minister of Climate and Environment, Mr. Sveinung Rotevatn, called the Partnership “a unique opportunity to kick-start the efforts to better deal with the environmental challenges of plastic waste.” Mr. Didier Dogley, Seychelles Minister for Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine then said that “in 2018, on World Environment Day, the world was called to beat plastic pollution. We were then reminded that our world is drowning in plastic pollution. I wish to commend the Basel Convention for initiating this Plastic Waste Partnership; I feel comforted to see that there is a real commitment by the world community towards fighting this plastic curse at the global level.”

The BRS Executive Secretary, Mr. Rolph Payet, announced a new project on plastic waste funded by the Norwegian Development Agency, Norad, to help build capacities for managing plastic waste in developing countries and countries with economies in transition. He described how this 6.9 million USD project will help operationalize the Plastic Waste Amendment adopted in May 2019 by 187 Parties to better incorporate plastic wastes of most concern into the legally-binding framework of the Basel Convention. The new project supports many activities of Convention’s work programme, for instance a Small Grants Programme which will channel funds to the grassroots level in priority regions.

The meeting outcomes included agreement on the activities the Partnership working group will tackle as a first step.  This includes activities on prevention and minimization of plastic waste, facilitating its proper collection and recycling, preparations for entry into force of the Plastic Waste Amendment and plans for outreach and awareness raising activities. The working group will develop and implement these activities along with supporting pilot projects and will provide a first report back on its progress at the twelfth meeting of the Open-ended Working Group of the Basel Convention (Geneva, 22-25 June 2020).

Also launched during the meeting was a Plastic Waste Photo Contest, aiming to raise awareness not only of the plastic waste problem, but also the solutions out there, our collective progress to date and the challenges and opportunities moving forward. Entries from professional, amateur, and junior photographers are invited by 30 September 2020 and will be judged by a National Geographic photographer.

Reflecting on the packed week of discussions, events and announcements, BRS Executive Secretary, Mr. Rolph Payet, applauded the Partnership on its first great leap forward in tackling the plastic waste issue while noting that the hard work was just about to begin. He also reaffirmed the commitment of the BRS Secretariat to the issue and in its support to the Partnership.

Separately, Mr Payet met with the President of Seychelles, H.E. Mr Danny Faure. More details are available on the Seychelles State House website: http://www.statehouse.gov.sc/news/4758/president-faure-receives-professor-rolph-payet-at-state-house.

The meeting was made possible using funding generously provided by the governments of Canada, Japan, Norway, Seychelles and Switzerland.

Notes for Editors:

The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal is the most comprehensive international environmental agreement on hazardous and other wastes and is almost universal, with 187 Parties. With an overarching objective of protecting human health and the environment against the adverse effects of hazardous wastes, its scope covers a wide range of wastes defined as hazardous based on their origin and/or composition and characteristics, as well as two types of waste defined as “other wastes”, namely household waste and incinerator ash. For more info see: www.basel.int

On May 10, 2019, the Parties to the Basel Convention adopted two important decisions to address plastic waste, namely the adoption of the Plastic Waste Amendment, and a decision setting out a range of further actions, including the establishment of the Plastic Waste Partnership. These steps have strengthened the Basel Convention as the only global legally-binding instrument to specifically address plastic waste. For more on the Amendments see: http://www.basel.int/?tabid=8347

On March 2, 2020, the Plastic Waste Partnership launched the Plastic Waste Photo Contest, to raise awareness on this global issue. For more information on the Contest see: http://www.basel.int/?tabid=8348

The Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions, or BRS Secretariat, services the three leading multilateral environment agreements governing hazardous chemicals and waste, in order to protect human health and the environment. See www.brsmeas.org for more info and follow the @brsmeas twitter feed for daily news.

For more on the Plastic Waste Partnership, contact:

Susan WINGFIELD
BRS Programme Officer, Geneva
+41-22-9178406
Melisa LIM
BRS Programme Officer, Geneva
+41-22-91782283

For BRS conventions general media enquiries see: www.brsmeas.org or contact:

Charlie AVIS
BRS Public Information Officer, Geneva
+41-79-730-4495



[1] Data from “Marine litter plastics and microplastics and their toxic chemicals components: the need for urgent preventive measures” by Frederic Gallo et. al. in Environmental Sciences Europe 2018; 30(1): 13, at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5918521/

Enroll for this online course to help tackle the global E-waste challenge

The BRS Secretariat and partners’ Massive Open Online Course on electronic, or e-waste, is a unique opportunity to learn how you can become part of the solution, rather than part of the problem.

Enroll for this online course to help tackle the global E-waste challenge

Enroll for this online course to help tackle the global E-waste challenge
 
Read the Basel Convention press release on the entry into force of the Ban Amendment

Entry into force of amendment to UN treaty boosts efforts to prevent waste dumping.

Read the Basel Convention press release on the entry into force of the Ban Amendment

Read the Basel Convention press release on the entry into force of the Ban Amendment

Date: 13 September 2019 

Momentum and political will continues to grow for tackling the world’s ever-intensifying waste problem, with this week celebrating the threshold for the Basel Convention1’s Ban Amendment to enter into force being reached. The Ban Amendment prohibits the export of hazardous waste from developed countries (OECD, EU member states, Liechtenstein) to developing countries.

The Ban Amendment will enter into force on 5 December 2019 following the recent ratification by Croatia. At the time of its adoption in 1995, some felt the amendment was a way to address challenges faced by developing countries and countries with economies in transition to control imports of hazardous and other wastes that they were unable to manage in an environmentally sound manner.

The spirit of the Ban Amendment has been very much alive for many years, in spite of the time elapsed between its adoption and entry into force. Many developed country Parties to the Convention have already made use of their prerogative to ban the export of hazardous wastes, while many developing countries also made use of their prerogative to ban the import of hazardous wastes.

The entry into force of the Ban Amendment has significant political weight, acting as a flagship of international efforts to ensure that those countries with the capacity to manage their hazardous wastes in an environmentally sound manner take responsibility for them, while still allowing Parties wishing to receive wastes required as raw materials for recycling or recovery industries.

International efforts to reach the threshold for entry into force – 66 of the 87 Parties as at 22 September 1995 – included a multi-year country-led initiative by Indonesia and Switzerland launched in 2011, assistance by the Basel Convention Secretariat to individual Parties facing difficulties in ratifying the Ban Amendment, as well as awareness-raising activities by many other stakeholders.

Reflecting on these latest developments, the Executive Secretary of the Basel Convention, Rolph Payet, said today that “public awareness of the scale and impact of our waste problem has risen enormously in recent years and Parties are stepping up their efforts to collectively tackle this, both at home through innovative measures and also globally through international, multilateral action. The Basel Convention has continually evolved to reflect these new challenges and the entry into force of the Ban Amendment is another milestone towards minimising risks from the adverse effects of transboundary movements of hazardous waste. Quite simply, the world will be a safer, healthier place from now on.”

NOTES for EDITORS:

The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal is the most comprehensive international environment on hazardous and other wastes and is almost universal, with 187 Parties. With an overarching objective of protecting human health and the environment against the adverse effects of hazardous wastes, its scope covers a wide range of wastes defined as hazardous based on their origin and/or composition and characteristics, as well as two types of waste defined as “other wastes”, namely household waste and incinerator ash. For more info see www.basel.int

The Ban Amendment was adopted by decision III/1 at the third meeting of the Conference of the Parties in 1995. It added a new preambular paragraph, an additional paragraph to Article 4 and a new Annex VII to the Convention. The Ban Amendment provides for the prohibition by Parties listed in Annex VII (members of the EU, OECD and Liechtenstein) of transboundary movements of hazardous wastes to States not in Annex VII. For more information: http://www.basel.int/Implementation/LegalMatters/BanAmendment/Overview/tabid/1484/Default.aspx

The Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions, or BRS Secretariat, supports Parties implement the three leading multilateral environment agreements governing chemicals and waste, in order to protect human health and the environment. See www.brsmeas.org for more info and follow the @brsmeas twitter feed for daily news.

Media enquiries, interviews, more information, contact:

Charlie Avis
Public Information Officer, BRS Secretariat
Charles.avis@brsmeas.org
Tel: +41-79-7304495

Substantive questions related to the Ban Amendment, contact:

Yvonne Ewang-Sanvincenti
Legal Officer, BRS Secretariat
yvonne.ewang@brsmeas.org
Tel.: +41-22-9178112


1 The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal was adopted in 1989, entered into force in 1992, and as of today has 187 Parties. Its overarching goal is the protection of human health and the environment against the adverse effects of hazardous wastes.

New era for plastic waste management as governments agree landmark actions on chemicals and waste

The 2019 Triple COPs concluded successfully with a raft of decisions to protect human health and the environment from the harmful effects of chemicals and wastes, including plastic waste.

New era for plastic waste management as governments agree landmark actions on chemicals and waste

New era for plastic waste management as governments agree landmark actions on chemicals and waste

Geneva, 10 May 2019 - Decisions on plastic waste have been reached today in Geneva, as approximately 180 governments adopted a raft of decisions aimed at protecting human health and the environment from the harmful effects of hazardous chemicals and waste.

Pollution from plastic waste, acknowledged as a major environmental problem of global concern, has reached epidemic proportions with an estimated 100 million tonnes of plastic now found in the oceans, 80-90% of which comes from land-based sources1. Governments this week amended the Basel Convention to include plastic waste in a legally-binding framework which will make global trade in plastic waste more transparent and better regulated, whilst also ensuring that its management is safer for human health and the environment. At the same time, a new Partnership on Plastic Waste was established to mobilise business, government, academic and civil society resources, interests and expertise to assist in implementing the new measures, to provide a set of practical supports – including tools, best practices, technical and financial assistance - for this ground-breaking agreement.

Other far-reaching decisions from the two weeks included the elimination of two toxic chemical groups, which together total about 4,000 chemicals, listed into Annex A of the Stockholm Convention, namely Dicofol and Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) and its salts and PFOA-related compounds. The latter has till now been used in a wide variety of industrial and domestic applications including non-stick cookware and food processing equipment, as well as a surfactant in textiles, carpets, paper, paints and fire-fighting foams.

Important progress was also made under the Rotterdam Convention, which provides a legally-binding framework for information exchange and informed decision-making in the trade of certain hazardous pesticides and industrial chemicals. Two chemicals, the pesticide phorate and the industrial chemical hexabromocyclododecane were added to Annex III of the convention, making them subject to the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure, through which countries can decide on future imports of these chemicals. A further decision, to approve procedures and mechanisms on compliance with the Rotterdam Convention – seen as a crucial step for further improving implementation of this key convention - was adopted with great appreciation by Parties.

Working for two weeks in Geneva under the theme of “Clean Planet, Healthy People: Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste”, approximately 1,400 delegates from around 180 countries converged for the meetings of the Conferences of Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions (Triple COPs). Participants benefited from the numerous opportunities and events to exchange information on alternatives to these chemicals, as well as best practices.

Speaking at the closing session of the Triple COPs, Rolph Payet, Executive Secretary (UNEP) of the three conventions, said that “I’m proud that this week in Geneva, Parties to the Basel Convention have reached agreement on a legally-binding, globally-reaching mechanism for managing plastic waste. Plastic waste is acknowledged as one of the world’s most pressing environmental issues, and the fact that this week close to 1 million people around the world signed a petition urging Basel Convention Parties to take action here in Geneva at the COPs is a sign that public awareness and desire for action is high.”

“We were able to list two out of 7 candidate chemicals and will continue working closely with parties to identify feasible alternative solutions to hazardous pesticides, taking due account of food security and market access aspects” added Hans Dreyer, Executive Secretary (FAO) of the Rotterdam Convention.

Notes for Editors:

The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Waste and their Disposal is the most comprehensive international environmental agreement on hazardous and other wastes and is almost universal, with 187 Parties. With an overarching objective of protecting human health and the environment against the adverse effects of hazardous wastes and other wastes, its scope covers a wide range of wastes defined as “hazardous” based on their origin and/or composition and characteristics, as well as two types of wastes defined as “other wastes” – household waste and incinerator ash. See www.basel.int

Plastic Waste

With an estimated 100 million tonnes of plastic in our seas, 80-90% of which has come from land-based sources, the high public profile of this issue is understandable. Reducing waste generation at source, and improving waste management thereafter, would go a long way towards solving this problem. For more on this see:  http://www.brsmeas.org/?tabid=4332&blogId=5169 and http://www.brsmeas.org/tabid/7656/Default.aspx

The Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure (PIC) for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade, is jointly administered by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and UN Environment (UNEP). The 161 Parties to this legally-binding Convention share responsibility and cooperate to safely manage chemicals in international trade. As of the end of this COP, 52 chemicals and pesticides are listed in its Annex III. The Convention does not introduce bans but facilitates the exchange of information among Parties on hazardous chemicals and pesticides, and their potential risks, to inform and improve national decision making. In addition, through the PIC Procedure, it provides a legally-binding mechanism to support national decisions on the import of selected chemicals and pesticides in order to minimize the risk they pose to human health and the environment. See www.pic.int

Listing of Chemicals: Pesticides and Industrial Chemicals under the Rotterdam Convention

The newly-listed chemicals are phorate (a pesticide) and hexabromocyclododecane (an industrial chemical) these chemicals would be included in the prior informed consent (PIC) procedure enabling better-informed decision-making on the trade in chemicals, thereby protecting human health and the environment. More information on these chemicals is available at: http://www.pic.int/tabid/1185/Default.aspx

The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants is a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from chemicals that remain intact in the environment for long periods, become widely distributed geographically, accumulate in the fatty tissue of humans and wildlife, and have harmful impacts on human health or on the environment. Exposure to Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) can lead to serious health effects including certain cancers, birth defects, dysfunctional immune and reproductive systems, greater susceptibility to disease and damage to the central and peripheral nervous systems. The Convention requires its Parties to take measures to eliminate or reduce the release of POPs into the environment. As of today, this legally-binding Convention has 182 Parties, giving it almost universal coverage. As of the end of this COP, 30 chemicals of global concern are listed under the Stockholm Convention. See www.pops.int

Listing of Chemicals: Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) under the Stockholm Convention

The two new chemicals listed in Annex A to the Stockholm Convention are the pesticide Dicofol, and Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) its salts and PFOA-related compounds (some applications with time-limited exemptions). Listing in Annex A to the Convention obliges Parties to eliminate these chemicals from use. The two chemicals are listed on the basis of a robust review process addressing risks, management options and alternatives by the UN’s POPs Review Committee. Dicofol is used as a miticide on a variety of field crops, fruits, vegetables, ornamentals and tea and coffee and is known to cause skin irritation and hyperstimulation of nerve transmissions in humans as well as being highly toxic to fish, aquatic invertebrates, algae and birds. PFOA is a widely-used industrial chemical used in the production of non-stick cookware and food processing equipment, as well as a surfactant in textiles, carpets, paper, paints and fire-fighting foams. As a substance of very high concern, it is known to be linked to major health problems including kidney cancer, testicular cancer, thyroid disease and hypertension in pregnancy. More information on these chemicals is available in factsheets at: http://chm.pops.int/tabid/243/Default.aspx

For BRS conventions general media enquiries see: www.brsmeas.org or contact:

Charlie AVIS, Public Information Officer (UN Environment), Geneva +41-79-730-4495

 

 

 


1 Data from “Marine litter plastics and microplastics and their toxic chemicals components: the need for urgent preventive measures” by Frederic Gallo et. al. in Environmental Sciences Europe 2018; 30(1): 13, at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5918521/

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