The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal, usually known as the Basel Convention, is an international treaty that was designed to reduce the movements of hazardous waste between nations, and specifically to prevent transfer of hazardous waste from developed to less developed countries (LDCs). It does not, however, address the movement of radioactive waste. The Convention is also intended to minimize the amount and toxicity of wastes generated, to ensure their environmentally sound management as closely as possible to the source of generation, and to assist LDCs in environmentally sound management of the hazardous and other wastes they generate.
The Convention was opened for signature on 22 March 1989, and entered into force on 5 May 1992. As of October 2018, 186 states and the European Union are parties to the Convention. Haiti and the United States have signed the Convention but not ratified it.
|Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal|
The logo of the Basel Convention Secretariat
|Type||United Nations treaty|
|Signed||22 March 1989|
|Effective||5 May 1992|
|Condition||Ninety days after the ratification by at least 20 signatory states|
|Depositary||Secretary-General of the United Nations|
|Languages||Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, Spanish|
|Basel Convention at Wikisource|
With the tightening of environmental laws (for example, RCRA) in developed nations in the 1970s, disposal costs for hazardous waste rose dramatically. At the same time, globalization of shipping made transboundary movement of waste more accessible, and many LDCs were desperate for foreign currency. Consequently, the trade in hazardous waste, particularly to LDCs, grew rapidly.
One of the incidents which led to the creation of the Basel Convention was the Khian Sea waste disposal incident, in which a ship carrying incinerator ash from the city of Philadelphia in the United States dumped half of its load on a beach in Haiti before being forced away. It sailed for many months, changing its name several times. Unable to unload the cargo in any port, the crew was believed to have dumped much of it at sea.
Another is the 1988 Koko case in which five ships transported 8,000 barrels of hazardous waste from Italy to the small town of Koko in Nigeria in exchange for $100 monthly rent which was paid to a Nigerian for the use of his farmland.
These practices have been deemed "Toxic Colonialism" by many developing countries.
At its most recent meeting, 27 November to 1 December 2006, the Conference of the parties of the Basel Agreement focused on issues of electronic waste and the dismantling of ships.
According to Maureen Walsh, only around 4% of hazardous wastes that come from OECD countries are actually shipped across international borders. These wastes include, among others, chemical waste, radioactive waste, municipal solid waste, asbestos, incinerator ash, and old tires. Of internationally shipped waste that comes from developed countries, more than half is shipped for recovery and the remainder for final disposal.
Increased trade in recyclable materials has led to an increase in a market for used products such as computers. This market is valued in billions of dollars. At issue is the distinction when used computers stop being a "commodity" and become a "waste".
As of October 2018, there are 187 parties to the treaty, which includes 184 UN member states, the Cook Islands, the European Union, and the State of Palestine. The nine UN member states that are not party to the treaty are East Timor, Fiji, Grenada, Haiti, San Marino, Solomon Islands, South Sudan, Tuvalu, and United States.
A waste falls under the scope of the Convention if it is within the category of wastes listed in Annex I of the Convention and it exhibits one of the hazardous characteristics contained in Annex III. In other words, it must both be listed and possess a characteristic such as being explosive, flammable, toxic, or corrosive. The other way that a waste may fall under the scope of the Convention is if it is defined as or considered to be a hazardous waste under the laws of either the exporting country, the importing country, or any of the countries of transit.
The definition of the term disposal is made in Article 2 al 4 and just refers to annex IV, which gives a list of operations which are understood as disposal or recovery. Examples of disposal are broad, including recovery and recycling.
Alternatively, to fall under the scope of the Convention, it is sufficient for waste to be included in Annex II, which lists other wastes, such as household wastes and residue that comes from incinerating household waste.
Radioactive waste that is covered under other international control systems and wastes from the normal operation of ships are not covered.
Annex IX attempts to define "commodities" which are not considered wastes and which would be excluded.
In addition to conditions on the import and export of the above wastes, there are stringent requirements for notice, consent and tracking for movement of wastes across national boundaries. It is of note that the Convention places a general prohibition on the exportation or importation of wastes between Parties and non-Parties. The exception to this rule is where the waste is subject to another treaty that does not take away from the Basel Convention. The United States is a notable non-Party to the Convention and has a number of such agreements for allowing the shipping of hazardous wastes to Basel Party countries.
The OECD Council also has its own control system that governs the trans-boundary movement of hazardous materials between OECD member countries. This allows, among other things, the OECD countries to continue trading in wastes with countries like the United States that have not ratified the Basel Convention.
Parties to the Convention must honor import bans of other Parties.
Article 4 of the Basel Convention calls for an overall reduction of waste generation. By encouraging countries to keep wastes within their boundaries and as close as possible to its source of generation, the internal pressures should provide incentives for waste reduction and pollution prevention. Parties are generally prohibited from exporting covered wastes to, or import covered waste from, non-parties to the convention.
The Convention states that illegal hazardous waste traffic is criminal but contains no enforcement provisions.
According to Article 12, Parties are directed to adopt a protocol that establishes liability rules and procedures that are appropriate for damage that comes from the movement of hazardous waste across borders.
Current consensus is that as space is not classed as a "country" under the specific definition, export of e-waste to non terrestrial locations would not be covered. This has been suggested (somewhat laughably) as a way to deal with the "Fridge Mountain" and related deposits of waste in the UK and elsewhere in the event of a way to cheaply access space such as an orbital tether being built.
After the initial adoption of the Convention, some least developed countries and environmental organizations argued that it did not go far enough. Many nations and NGOs argued for a total ban on shipment of all hazardous waste to LDCs. In particular, the original Convention did not prohibit waste exports to any location except Antarctica but merely required a notification and consent system known as "prior informed consent" or PIC. Further, many waste traders sought to exploit the good name of recycling and begin to justify all exports as moving to recycling destinations. Many believed a full ban was needed including exports for recycling. These concerns led to several regional waste trade bans, including the Bamako Convention.
Lobbying at 1995 Basel conference by LDCs, Greenpeace and several European countries such as Denmark, led to the adoption of an amendment to the convention in 1995 termed the Basel Ban Amendment to the Basel Convention. The amendment has been accepted by 86 countries and the European Union, but has not entered into force (as that requires ratification by 3/4 of the member states to the Convention). The Amendment prohibits the export of hazardous waste from a list of developed (mostly OECD) countries to developing countries. The Basel Ban applies to export for any reason, including recycling. An area of special concern for advocates of the Amendment was the sale of ships for salvage, shipbreaking. The Ban Amendment was strenuously opposed by a number of industry groups as well as nations including Australia and Canada. The number of ratification for the entry-into force of the Ban Amendment is under debate: Amendments to the convention enter into force after ratification of "three-fourths of the Parties who accepted them" [Art. 17.5]; so far, the Parties of the Basel Convention could not yet agree whether this would be three fourth of the Parties that were Party to the Basel Convention when the Ban was adopted, or three fourth of the current Parties of the Convention [see Report of COP 9 of the Basel Convention]. The status of the amendment ratifications can be found on the Basel Secretariat's web page. The European Union fully implemented the Basel Ban in its Waste Shipment Regulation (EWSR), making it legally binding in all EU member states. Norway and Switzerland have similarly fully implemented the Basel Ban in their legislation.
In the light of the blockage concerning the entry into force of the Ban amendment, Switzerland and Indonesia have launched a "Country-led Initiative" (CLI) to discuss in an informal manner a way forward to ensure that the trans boundary movements of hazardous wastes, especially to developing countries and countries with economies in the transition, do not lead to an unsound management of hazardous wastes. This discussion aims at identifying and finding solutions to the reasons why hazardous wastes are still brought to countries that are not able to treat them in a safe manner. It is hoped that the CLI will contribute to the realization of the objectives of the Ban Amendment. The Basel Convention's website informs about the progress of this initiative.
Agbogbloshie is a nickname of a commercial district on the Korle Lagoon of the Odaw River, near the center of Accra, Ghana's capital city. Near the slum called "Old Fadama", the Agbogbloshie site became known as a destination for locally generated automobile and electronic scrap collected from across the City of Accra. It was alleged to be at the center of a legal and illegal exportation network for the environmental dumping of electronic waste (e-waste) from industrialized nations. The Basel Action Network, a small NGO based in Seattle, has referred to Agbogbloshie as a "digital dumping ground", where they allege millions of tons of e-waste are processed each year.However, repeated international studies have failed to confirm the allegations, which have been labelled an "e-waste hoax" by international reuse advocate WR3A. The most exhaustive study of the trade in used electronics in Nigeria, funded by UNEP and Basel Convention, revealed that from 540 000 tonnes of informally processed waste electronics, 52% of the material was recovered.According to statistics from the World Bank, in large cities like Accra and Lagos the majority of households have owned televisions and computers for decades. The UN Report "Where are WEEE in Africa" (2012) disclosed that the majority of used electronics found in African dumps had not in fact been recently imported as scrap, but originated from these African cities. Agbogbloshie is situated on the banks of the Korle Lagoon, northwest of Accra's Central Business District. Roughly 40,000 Ghanaians inhabit the area, most of whom are migrants from rural areas. Due to its harsh living conditions and rampant crime, the area is nicknamed "Sodom and Gomorrah".The Basel Convention prevents the transfrontier shipment of hazardous waste from developed to less developed countries. However, the Convention specifically allows export for reuse and repair under Annex Ix, B1110. While numerous international press reports have made reference to allegations that the majority of exports to Ghana are dumped, research by the US International Trade Commission found little evidence of unprocessed e-waste being shipped to Africa from the United States, a finding corroborated by the United Nations Environment Programme, MIT, Memorial University, Arizona State University, and other research. In 2013, the original source of the allegation blaming foreign dumping for the material found in Agbogbloshie recanted, or rather stated it had never made the claim that 80% of US e-waste is exported.Whether domestically generated by residents of Ghana or imported, concern remains over methods of waste processing - especially burning - which emit toxic chemicals into the air, land and water. Exposure is especially hazardous to children, as these toxins are known to inhibit the development of the reproductive system, the nervous system, and especially the brain. Concerns about human health and the environment of Agbogbloshie continue to be raised as the area remains heavily polluted. In the 2000s, the Ghanaian government, with new funding and loans, implemented the Korle Lagoon Ecological Restoration Project (KLERP), an environmental remediation and restoration project that will address the pollution problem by dredging the lagoon and Odaw canal to improve drainage and flooding into the ocean.Bamako Convention
The Bamako Convention (in full: Bamako Convention on the ban on the Import into Africa and the Control of Transboundary Movement and Management of Hazardous Wastes within Africa) is a treaty of African nations prohibiting the import of any hazardous (including radioactive) waste. The Convention was negotiated by twelve nations of the Organisation of African Unity at Bamako, Mali in January, 1991, and came into force in 1998.
Impetus for the Bamako Convention arose from the failure of the Basel Convention to prohibit trade of hazardous waste to less developed countries (LDCs), and from the realization that many developed nations were exporting toxic wastes to Africa. This impression was strengthened by several prominent cases. One important case, which occurred in 1987, concerned the importation into Nigeria of 18,000 barrels (2,900 m3) of hazardous waste from the Italian companies Ecomar and Jelly Wax, which had agreed to pay local farmer Sunday Nana $100 per month for storage. The barrels, found in storage in the port of Koko, contained toxic waste including polychlorinated biphenyls, and their eventual shipment back to Italy led to protests closing three Italian ports.
The Bamako Convention uses a format and language similar to that of the Basel Convention, but is much stronger in prohibiting all imports of hazardous waste. Additionally, it does not make exceptions on certain hazardous wastes (like those for radioactive materials) made by the Basel Convention.Basel Action Network
The Basel Action Network (BAN) is a charitable non-governmental organization working to combat the export of toxic waste from technology and other products from industrialized societies to developing countries. BAN is based in Seattle, Washington, United States, with a partner office in the Philippines. BAN is named after the Basel Convention, a United Nations treaty designed to control and prevent the dumping of toxic wastes, particularly on developing countries. BAN serves as an unoffical watchdog and promoter of the Basel Convention and its decisions.Basel Convention Coordinating Centre for the African Region in Nigeria
The Basel Convention Coordinating Centre for the African Region in Nigeria (BCCC Africa) is a regional centre of the Basel Convention. It is located along Ijoma Road, inside the main campus of the University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria.
It has the vision of strengthening countries in the African Region in the Environmentally Sound Management (ESM) of Hazardous Waste. The Coordinating Centre in Nigeria aims at fast-tracking the implementation of the Basel Convention in the African Region.
The Centre is aimed at African countries implement the Basel Convention and its amendments. It also tries to inform these countries about chemicals and hazardous wastes issues. The Centre receives financial assistance from the Nigerian Government, and the Basel Convention Trust fund.Conference of the parties
A conference of the parties (COP; French: Conférence des Parties, CP) is the governing body of an international convention. Conventions with a COP include:
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
United Nations Climate Change conference
United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification
United Nations Convention against Corruption
Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
Convention on Biological Diversity
2012 Hyderabad Biodiversity Conference
Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants
Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons
Chemical Weapons Convention
WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco ControlElectronic waste by country
Electronic waste is a significant part of today's global, post-consumer waste stream. Efforts are being made to recycle and reduce this waste.Electronic waste in China
Electronic waste is a serious environmental issue in China. China is the largest importer of e-waste and is home to most of the world's largest dumpsites. Rapid economic growth, coupled with the world's increasing demand for electronics has dramatically increased the amount of e-waste being disposed of. Roughly 70% this global e-waste ends up in China.While the e-waste disposal sector is responsible for many jobs in rural Southeastern China, it has also posed environmental and health risks by releasing toxic pollutants. Most of these risks arise from the fact that 60% of the e-waste is processed in informal recycling centers by unskilled ill-equipped manual labour. This e-waste is often processed through crude, informal practices, causing serious environmental damage and permanent health risks in areas surrounding the disposal sites. While the Chinese government and the international community have taken action to regulate e-waste management, ineffective enforcement has been an obstacle to mitigating the consequences of e-waste.Electronic waste in New Zealand
Electronic waste in New Zealand is an environmental issue being addressed by community and government initiatives.Environmental crime
Environmental crime is an illegal act which directly harms the environment. International bodies such as the G8, Interpol, European Union, United Nations Environment Programme and the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute have recognised the following environmental crimes:
Illegal wildlife trade in endangered species in contravention to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES);
Smuggling of ozone-depleting substances (ODS) in contravention to the 1987 Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer;
Dumping and illicit trade in hazardous waste in contravention of the 1989 Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and Other Wastes and their Disposal;
Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in contravention to controls imposed by various regional fisheries management organisations;
Illegal logging and the associated trade in stolen timber in violation of national laws.These crimes are liable for prosecution. Interpol facilitates international police cooperation and assists its member countries in the effective enforcement of national and international environmental laws and treaties. Interpol began fighting environmental crime in 1992.Global waste trade
The global waste trade is the international trade of waste between countries for further treatment, disposal, or recycling. Toxic or hazardous wastes are often exported from developed countries to developing countries, also known as countries of the Global South. Therefore, the burden of the toxicity of wastes from Western countries falls predominantly onto developing countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
The World Bank Report What a Waste: A Global Review of Solid Waste Management, describes the amount of solid waste produced in a given country. Specifically, countries which produce more solid waste are more economically developed and more industrialized. The report explains that "[g]enerally, the higher the economic development and rate of urbanization, the greater the amount of solid waste produced.” Therefore, countries in the Global North, which are more economically developed and urbanized, produce more solid waste than Global South countries.Current international trade flows of waste follow a pattern of waste being produced in the Global North and being exported to and disposed of in the Global South. Multiple factors affect which countries produce waste and at what magnitude, including geographic location, degree of industrialization, and level of integration into the global economy.
Numerous scholars and researchers have linked the sharp increase in waste trading and the negative impacts of waste trading to the prevalence of neoliberal economic policy. With the major economic transition towards neoliberal economic policy in the 1980s, the shift towards “free-market” policy has facilitated the sharp increase in the global waste trade. Henry Giroux, Chair of Cultural Studies at McMaster University, gives his definition of neoliberal economic policy: “Neoliberalism ...removes economics and markets from the discourse of social obligations and social costs. ...As a policy and political project, neoliberalism is wedded to the privatization of public services, selling off of state functions, deregulation of finance and labor, elimination of the welfare state and unions, liberalization of trade in goods and capital investment, and the marketization and commodification of society.” Given this economic platform of privatization, neoliberalism is based on expanding free-trade agreements and establishing open-borders to international trade markets. Trade liberalization, a neoliberal economic policy in which trade is completely deregulated, leaving no tariffs, quotas, or other restrictions on international trade, is designed to further developing countries’ economies and integrate them into the global economy. Critics claim that although free-market trade liberalization was designed to allow any country the opportunity to reach economic success, the consequences of these policies have been devastating for Global South countries, essentially crippling their economies in a servitude to the Global North. Even supporters such as the International Monetary Fund, “progress of integration has been uneven in recent decades” Specifically, developing countries have been targeted by trade liberalization policies to import waste as a means of economic expansion. The guiding neoliberal economic policy argues that the way to be integrated into the global economy is to participate in trade liberalization and exchange in international trade markets. Their claim is that smaller countries, with less infrastructure, less wealth, and less manufacturing ability, should take in hazardous wastes as a way to increase profits and stimulate their economies.Lakshmi Raghupati
Lakshmi Raghupaty (b. 23 September 1947 at Trivandrum, India) is and Indian public servant. She served as Director of the Ministry of Environment and Forests. She worked at the ministry from 1987 to 2007 and provided scientific and technical inputs in policy and strategy formulation.Mineral Policy Institute
The Mineral Policy Institute is an Australian-based non-governmental organisation that specialises in preventing environmentally and socially destructive mining, minerals and energy projects in Australia, Asia and the Pacific. The institute as formed in 1995 in response to the internationalisation of Australia's mineral industry and requests for assistance from overseas. The Institute works with other organisations, including Greenpeace to protest violations of the Basel Convention related to illegal dumping.Mobile phone recycling
Mobile phones can be recycled at the end of their life.
Rapid technology change, low initial cost, and even planned obsolescence have resulted in a fast-growing surplus, which contributes to the increasing amount of electronic waste around the globe. Recyclers consider electronic waste a "rapidly expanding" issue. In the United States, an estimated 70% of heavy metals in landfills comes from discarded electronics, while electronic waste represents only 2% of America's trash in landfills.Mobile phones are "considered hazardous waste" in California; many chemicals in such phones leach from landfills into the groundwater system. Environmental advocacy group Greenpeace claims that the soldering of the iPhone battery into its handset hinders its being recycled. It also states that its scientists found toxic phthalates on iPhone cables, and it holds that this contravenes California's Proposition 65, which requires warning labels on products exposing consumers to phthalates.Because the U.S. has not ratified the Basel Convention or its Ban Amendment, and has no domestic laws forbidding the export of toxic waste, the Basel Action Network estimates that about 80% of the electronic waste directed to recycling in the U.S. does not get recycled there at all, but is put on container ships and sent to countries such as China. Guiyu in the Shantou region of China, and Delhi and Bangalore in India, have electronic waste processing areas.Princess Majeedah Bolkiah
Princess Hajah Majeedah Nuurul Bulqiah (Malay: Yang Teramat Mulia Paduka Seri Pengiran Anak Puteri Hajah Majeedah Nuurul Bulqiah) (born 16 March 1976) is the fourth child of Hassanal Bolkiah, Sultan of Brunei and his wife, Pengiran Anak Saleha (both first cousins).
Princess Majeedah holds a BA (Hons) in Administration and Public Policy from the University of Brunei Darussalam and an MA in Environmental Development from King's College London.
Princess Majeedah is currently the Senior Environment Officer and Head of Planning and Management Division at the Department of the Environment, Parks and Recreation, an agency of the Ministry of Development. One of the tasks of the Planning and Management Division is to evaluate the Environmental Impact Assessment Report on the Sungai Liang Industrial Site Development. Majeedah has supervised several successful projects, including the ASEAN Youths Forum on the Environment, which was held on 8 January 2007.
Majeedah began her career as Special Duties Officer at the Environmental Unit, a section of the Ministry of Development responsible for policy and strategic environment affairs, on 11 February 2002. Among her written work include: the Environmental Management Guidelines for Quarry Activity; and the Position Paper on Brunei’s Accession to the Basel Convention to Control the Disposal and Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes.Regulation of chemicals
The regulation of chemicals is the legislative intent of a variety of national laws or international initiatives such as agreements, strategies or conventions. These international initiatives define the policy of further regulations to be implemented locally as well as exposure or emission limits. Often, regulatory agencies oversee the enforcement of these laws.Safe Planet
Safe Planet: the United Nations Campaign for Responsibility on Hazardous Chemicals and Wastes is the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and UN Food and Agricultural Organization-led global public awareness and outreach campaign for ensuring the safety of human health and the environment against hazardous chemicals and wastes.The Secretariats of the Basel Convention, the Rotterdam Convention and the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, the three leading global chemicals and waste management instruments, provide the measures, new initiatives and solutions to deal with the growing problems of hazardous chemicals and wastes. Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions encompass the management of hazardous chemicals, especially the persistent organic pollutants (POPs), which are covered by all three treaties. The Conventions target chemical pollutants like dioxins and furans, hazardous pesticides and DDT, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), PFOS, and the heavy metals: arsenic, cadmium, mercury and lead.Ship breaking
Ship breaking or ship demolition is a type of ship disposal involving the breaking up of ships for either a source of parts, which can be sold for re-use, or for the extraction of raw materials, chiefly scrap. It may also be known as ship dismantling, ship cracking, or ship recycling. Modern ships have a lifespan of 25 to 30 years before corrosion, metal fatigue and a lack of parts render them uneconomical to run. Ship breaking allows the materials from the ship, especially steel, to be recycled and made into new products. This lowers the demand for mined iron ore and reduces energy use in the steelmaking process. Equipment on board the vessel can also be reused. While ship breaking is sustainable, there are concerns about the use of poorer countries without stringent environmental legislation. It is also considered one of the world's most dangerous industries and very labour-intensive.In 2012, roughly 1,250 ocean ships were broken down, and their average age was 26 years. In 2013, the world total of demolished ships amounted to 29,052,000 tonnes, 92% of which were demolished in Asia. India, Bangladesh, China and Pakistan have the highest market share and are global centres of ship breaking, with Chittagong Ship Breaking Yard in Bangladesh, Alang in India and Gadani in Pakistan being the largest ships' graveyards in the world. The largest sources of ships are states of China, Greece and Germany respectively, although there is a greater variation in the source of carriers versus their disposal. The ship breaking yards of India, Bangladesh, China and Pakistan employ 225,000 workers as well as providing a large number of indirect jobs. In Bangladesh, the recycled steel covers 20% of the country's needs and in India it is almost 10%.As an alternative to ship breaking, ships may be sunk to create artificial reefs after legally-mandated removal of hazardous materials, or sunk in deep ocean waters. Storage is a viable temporary option, whether on land or afloat, though all ships will be eventually scrapped, sunk, or preserved for museums.Waste
Waste (or wastes) are unwanted or unusable materials. Waste is any substance which is discarded after primary use, or is worthless, defective and of no use. A by-product by contrast is a joint product of relatively minor economic value. A waste product may become a by-product, joint product or resource through an invention that raises a waste product's value above zero.
Examples include municipal solid waste (household trash/refuse), hazardous waste, wastewater (such as sewage, which contains bodily wastes (feces and urine) and surface runoff), radioactive waste, and others.Waste by country
Waste, unwanted or unusable material, varies in type and quantity in the different countries around the world.