The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal is the most comprehensive global environmental agreement on hazardous wastes and other wastes. Among other matters, the Convention regulates transboundary movements (TBM) of hazardous wastes and other wastes. This leaflet presents an overview of the Basel Convention control system for the TBM of hazardous wastes and other wastes. It sets out the conditions, procedures and special rules for such TBM with the aim of facilitating the effective implementation of the Convention.
This leaflet provides an overview of the respective international trade control regimes under the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions.
In cases of emergency resulting from incidents arising from transboundary movements of hazardous wastes and other wastes and their disposal, developing countries or countries with economies in transition can apply for assistance from the Technical Cooperation Trust Fund of the Basel Convention.
This brochure presents a brief overview of the activities of the Implementation and Compliance Committee carried out during the period 2002 – 2011. It complements the brochure entitled “The Basel Convention Mechanism for Promoting Implementation and Compliance” published in 2006, which is intended to be a brief guide for Parties to explain the procedures of the Committee.
The overarching objective of the Basel Convention is to protect human health and the environment against the adverse effects of hazardous wastes. Under the Basel Convention, Parties have specific obligations to transmit certain information to each other. This includes notifications of national definitions of hazardous wastes in addition to those listed in the annexes of the Convention; and decisions to restrict or prohibit imports and/or exports of hazardous or other wastes. The current leaflet provides information about these notifications in a concise manner.
The Partnership for Action on Computing Equipment (PACE) is a multi-stakeholder partnership established to address the environmentally sound management of used and end-of-life computing equipment. The multi-stakeholder Working Group, comprised of representatives of personal computer manufacturers, recyclers, international organizations, academia, environmental groups and governments developed the proposed scope of work, terms of reference, financial arrangements, and structure of PACE. The Partnership was launched at the ninth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention, which took place in Bali, Indonesia in June 2008.
National reports submitted in the framework of the Basel Convention suggest that nearly 180 million tonnes of hazardous and household wastes are generated annually around the world. According to the same reports, at least 9.3 million tonnes of these wastes move from country to country each year, and this waste is presumably received as a welcome source of business. This leaves some 170 millions tonnes of hazardous and household wastes that are assumed to be disposed of nationally in an environmentally sound manner. But is this the case?
Many countries complain that they are receiving shipments which they never agreed to or that they are unable to properly dispose of. From Brazil to Singapore, from Belgium to Ghana, or from Canada to Russia, it would be challenging to find a single country that has never suffered a case of illegal traffic of waste.
Ship dismantling, also commonly referred to as ship “recycling”, is an inherently sustainable activity, the benefits of which are felt at the global level. As the term ship “recycling” implies, value is derived from the materials and equipment comprising end of life ships: the scrap steel is melted down and is commonly used in the construction industries of ship recycling countries, and equipment (engines, mechanical parts or furniture) is refurbished and reused in other industries.
The industry is based predominantly in South Asia (in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan), which according to 2010 statistics, occupies approximately 70% of the global ship recycling market. Significant recycling activity also takes place in China (19%), with Turkey and other countries occupying the remaining 10% of the market. Beaching is the predominant method of ship recycling in the South Asian Region, whilst China and some other countries employ an alternative method known as pier breaking.
The past decade has seen a substantial variation in the level of activity in the industry. The supply of ships for recycling is subject to large variations as a consequence of the global demand for seaborne transport. From 2004 to 2008, the high demand for maritime transportation resulted in a record low number of ships being sold for recycling (only between 200 to 400 ships per annum, whereas the historical average is between 700 to 800 ships).
However, with the global economic recession in recent years, the demand for maritime transportation has declined. As a result, recycling activity peaked in 2009, with some 1200 ships being sent for recycling. Figures available until September 2010 indicate that high levels of recycling activity are set to continue.
Concern is growing over the large quantities of used and end-of-life electrical and electronic equipment (e-waste) being exported to developing countries for the purpose of re-use, repair, refurbishment, recycling and recovery at facilities that may not meet the Basel Convention standards of environmentally sound management (ESM).
Used and end-of-life electric and electronic products and waste (also referred to as ‘e-products’ and ‘e-waste‘), either generated locally or imported from developed countries, are accumulating in open dumpsites in a number of African countries. E-waste is often disposed of by open burning, placing entire communities at risk of exposure to releases of dangerous substances into the environment. E-waste contains toxic substances such as lead, cadmium, mercury, and brominated flame retardants. However, e-waste also provides a source of valuable income in these countries as some of these substances, as well as the valuable components comprising e-waste, are recycled and reused providing economic opportunities through the development of community based collection, recovery and recycling businesses.
The Basel Convention on the Control of Tranboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal establishes a system of information exchange within, and between Parties through the Secretariat. The exchange of information is crucial to ensuring that Parties are equipped with the necessary information to allow them to make informed decisions on the transboundary movements and management of hazardous wastes.
To make this system work, the Convention requires Parties to designate official points of contact to ensure that information is communicated to the appropriate persons/officials. These official points of contact are referred to as “Competent Authority” and “Focal Point” depending on their functions. Both contact points play key roles to the effective implementation of the Basel Convention.
The Basel Convention is the first global environmental agreement that has undertaken significant efforts to set up a network of Regional Centres. The BCRCs are uniquely positioned to steer regional efforts in hazardous waste management by linking global obligations with national development plans, and by integrating the environmentally sound management of hazardous waste into regional cooperation and development strategies.
The BCRCs have become the main instrument for enhancing the capacity of developing countries and countries with economies in transition to implement the Strategic Plan for the implementation of the Basel Convention.
The BCRCs have also been involved in activities aimed at facilitating the implementation of other multilateral environmental agreements in the regions, such as the Rotterdam and the Stockholm Conventions. The Ad Hoc Joint Working Group on enhancing cooperation and coordination among the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, has recognized that the coordinated use of the BCRCs by the three Conventions could help promote a life-cycle approach to the management of chemicals and wastes and strengthen capacity building efforts for the three Conventions.
In this context, a number of Basel Convention Regional Centres were nominated to be Stockholm Convention Regional Centres. The scope of activities of the BCRCs may therefore be widened, which represents an encouraging prospect and validating development for coordinated efforts in the management of chemicals and wastes.
Conscious of the need to address regional specificities and the need to facilitate the implementation of global issues at the regional level, countries foresaw the establishment of Basel Convention Regional and Coordinating Centres (BCRCs) at the time of the adoption of the Convention. In 1994, the Parties initiated the selection of the BCRCs. The first few years were dedicated to the institutional establishment of a growing number of Centres. Article 14 of the Convention addresses the issue of the establishment of the Centres to respond to the specific needs of the different regions in the world in terms of training and technology transfer for the minimization and environmentally sound management of hazardous and other wastes.
On several occasions, Parties reiterated the importance of the Centres in their assistance to implement the Basel Convention. In particular, reference is made to the 1999 “Basel Declaration on Environmentally Sound Management”. The Declaration recognized the need to further develop the Regional Centres as an efficient means to achieve the goals of environmentally sound management of hazardous and other wastes enshrined in the Basel Convention.
The use of mobile phones has grown exponentially from the first few users in the 1970s, to 1.76 billion in 2004, and more than 3 billion in April 20081. Sooner or later, these phones will be discarded, whole or in parts. In developed countries this quite often takes place sooner before they cease to operate. According to some recent studies, the first owner will generally replace their mobile phone within two years because they want newer features or because the older phones are incompatible with new services. In addition mobile phones are rapidly replacing fixed line phones in developing countries and countries with economies in transition. The result of that growth is a waste management problem when such phones reach the ends of their lives.
Public-private partnerships are voluntary and creative mechanisms that support the work of the Convention by offering forums for dialogue and practical action by all stakeholders. They are comprised of all levels of government, industry and business sectors, nongovernmental organizations, academia and other international institutions and bodies, for open and frank dialogue in action.
The Global Programme for Sustainable Ship Recycling was created in 2007 to facilitate improvements in worker health and safety and environmental conditions in ship recycling countries in the South Asia region. The Programme concept has been developed in close consultation with two other international organisations with an interest and expertise in ship recycling: the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO). The Secretariat of the Basel Convention seeks to work with all ship recycling stakeholders to ensure the future sustainability of the industry.
The eighth meeting the Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention, in December 2006, called upon Parties, countries and other stakeholders to the Basel Convention to offer technical and financial assistance to Côte d’Ivoire to support the implementation of the emergency plan that the Government of Côte d’Ivoire had developed. The Executive Director of UNEP established a special Trust Fund for Côte d’Ivoire and appealed to donors and partners to contribute financially and technically to the implementation of the emergency plan. To date, the Fund has received EURO 1 Million from The Netherlands and USD 80’000 from Sweden. In addition, USD 32’000 from Denmark have been earmarked in the Basel Convention Technical Cooperation Trust Fund in support of such assistance.
In September of each year, the Secretariat posts pre-filled questionnaires on its website and sends a letter to parties by e-mail requesting them to transmit their completed questionnaire, pursuant to paragraph 3 of Article 13 of the Convention.
The on-line reporting database of the Basel Convention, developed by the Secretariat, provides access to data and information contained in the national reports. The purpose of the on-line reporting database is to efficiently manage, process and retrieve data and information contained in the national reports transmitted by Parties, annually, to the Secretariat. It is accessible to Parties and others through the Convention website.
Parties to the Basel Convention are required to transmit their national reports to the Secretariat of the Basel Convention (SBC) annually, pursuant to paragraph 3 of Article 13 of the Basel Convention. The online reporting database of the Basel Convention, developed by the SBC, provides access to data and information contained in these national reports. The database is accessible to Parties and others through the Basel Convention website.
The reporting database of the Basel Convention, which is the basis for its online version, was designed and developed, for the Secretariat of the Basel Convention, by the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE).
The purpose of the online reporting database is to efficiently manage, process and retrieve data and information contained in the national reports transmitted by Parties, annually, to the Secretariat.