Plastics and More - Basel Convention OEWG 11 to Discuss


#Plastic #Basel Convention #e-waste #Stockholm Convention # chemicals & waste

The eleventh meeting of the Open-ended Working Group of the Basel Convention (OEWG.11) starts today at International Conference Centre. During the 4-day full-on meeting, Association 3 Herissons pays special attention towards several major issues:

1. Plastics - Norwegian proposal (UNEP/CHW/OEWG.11/14): Plastic pollution has been a hot topic in recently years, under different international discussion agenda. Basel Convention, which request Party countries to "Ensure that the generation of hazardous wastes and other wastes within it is reduced to a minimum", among others, might be the best place to deal with such global problem from root cause upstream. For OEWG 11, Norway proposed to remove "B3010: solid plastic wastes" from Annex IX, the annex of waste streams presumed to be non-hazardous and therefore presumed to not be subject to controls procedures under the Convention. It looks incomplete. But Norway has stated in a communication to the Secretariat that they next intend to add this listing of "solid plastic waste" to Annex II (wastes requiring special consideration). If both are proposed and approved, the net effect will be to avoid the contentious question of whether and when plastics might be hazardous waste and yet will recognize that they are wastes of such a concern that it is vital to control them and do so on a multilateral basis. Most significantly, Annex II is subject to prior informed consent controls and is likewise subject to other powerful controls under the Convention including the Party to non-Party trade ban. We have signed the NGO open letter to negotiators.

2. E-waste guidance document: The Basel Convention Parties are poised to adopt it at COP14, but with a massive loophole in the current draft version, more specifically, in Paragraph 31(b). If adopted with this paragraph, the Guideline will allow unscrupulous traders to export all manner of hazardous broken or untested consumer electronics outside of the control procedures of the Basel Convention simply by making a claim of "export for repair". Yet, all electronic equipment can be called "repairable" and almost all actual exports for repair involve exports of non-functional parts which are waste upon arrival, suggested by Basel Action Network (BAN). We agree with BAN that the original fundamental principle embraced by PACE and MPPI should be adopted, that is, if a device is not tested and demonstrated to be fully functional, then it is to be considered waste and subject to the control procedures of the Convention when it contains hazardous materials.

3. Ban Amendment: According to the Convention's Article 17 and the Country Led Initiative decision adopted at COP10 interpreting it, 3/4 of the Parties that were present and voting at COP3 (1995) when the Ban Amendment was adopted, are needed to put the amendment into force. 90 Parties were present and voting at COP3. 3/4 of 90 is 67.5, or rounded up, is 68. After 23 long years currently we have 66 Parties from this list of 90. Thus, we need by 2 more! Will we bear witness of the willingness of the two countries to be expressed on this OEWG?

4. Low-POPs-Content-Level to Define POPs Waste, and obligations coming with it: The Basel Convention works with the Stockholm Convention to develop Low POPs Content Level limits, which defines the level at which wastes must be treated according to stringent Stockholm Convention obligations to destroy their POP content. Most substances listed in the treaty have a low POPs content level of 50 ppm - a level that is still is too high because these wastes are highly hazardous, can contribute to the long-range transport of POPs, and can cause serious harm to public health and the environment. While for Short Chained Chlorinated Paraffins (SCCPs), it has been proposed by EU a limit of 10,000 ppm at OEWG 11. This is the weakest proposal for a hazardous waste limit in the history of the Basel and Stockholm Conventions. It will poison the circular economy, and also lead to:

- Significant new releases of POPs with accompanying threats to environmental & health

- Opening the door to dumping of wastes with very harmful SCCPs levels in developing and transition countries that cannot measure or manage them.

- Discouraging implementation of superior waste disposal techniques that can destroy all POPs content.

- Normalizing reckless low POPs content levels in the Stockholm Convention that undermine the objectives of the treaty.

We hope negotiators could pay attentions to the points above, and wish you have a fruitful one!

Please refer to Basel Action Network (BAN)'s website & this page for more information.