Waste containing nanomaterials overview

Nanomaterials are generally thought of as being particles with a size from approximately 1 to 100 nanometres (nm). Due to their size, they may have a range of properties that are different from the same materials without nanoform (so-called “bulk” substances). Because of these properties, nanomaterials have been engineered for use in a wide range of novel applications. Engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) are highly diverse in composition and the same nanomaterial may have many forms differing in size, shape and surface modifications.

The properties that make ENMs useful in various applications also give rise to concerns about their potential adverse effects on human health and the environment. The predicted increase in the production and use of ENMs will be associated with possible emissions during their entire life-cycle. Given the variety of uses of ENMs, including in consumer products such as electronics, sunscreens and tyres, many waste streams will be impacted and need to be properly managed to minimize potential risks associated with the release of ENMs.

In May 2017, the Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention requested the Open-ended Working Group to consider further work that may be carried out in relation to waste containing nanomaterials, on the basis of a paper to be prepared by the Secretariat on issues related to such waste.