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United Nations Basel Convention: Changes to Framework Laws on Wastes

  • 02 December 2019
  • Legislation

BIR continues to represent the interests of its members in the framework of the United Nations Basel Convention, with Environment and Trade Director Ross Bartley attending the third meetings of the Expert Working Group on the Review of Annexes (EWG-RA) that took place in Bratislava, Slovakia this November.

Since the review of the annexes of the Basel Convention has a direct impact on the daily business of recycling companies, it is vitally important that the consequences of any proposed changes are carefully considered.

For almost every country in the world (currently almost 190 countries), the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, is an internationally legally binding Convention that provides the framework laws for wastes. It lays down the general obligations and principles for the environmentally sound management of waste, amongst which:

  • Recycling
  • Other forms of Recovery such as Waste-to-Energy plants
  • Final Disposal operations of Landfill and Incineration. 

National authorities complete their laws and regulations in line with these framework laws. As a result, any changes to these framework laws for wastes, agreed since 1989, could have far-reaching consequences in most every country in the world.

When the Basel Convention formed an Expert Working Group to “Review its Annexes I, III, IV and related aspects of Annexes VIII and IX” in 2015, BIR became concerned for all its member companies whose core business is recycling.

Through the BIR eBriefs and during BIR Conventions, BIR has been keeping its members aware of progress made at each of the EWG-RA meetings,  with the first meeting in March 2018 in Geneva, and the second in December 2018 in Buenos Aires.

At the most recent meeting, which was attended by EWG members from countries that are Parties to the Basel Convention and by accredited observers (amongst which BIR represented by Mr Bartley, EuRIC, and ISRI), the EWG focused on options for possible amendment proposals to Annex IV (disposal operations). Also, the hazardous and non-hazardous list entries for electrical and electronic wastes (respectively entry A1180 in Annex VIII and entry B1110 in Annex IX) were briefly discussed. The EWG also briefly discussed the review of Annexes I (categories of waste) and III (hazardous characteristics).

The work of the EWG-RA will continue through 2020 and BIR will continue to participate.

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