Hazardous Waste Treaty Gets a Makeover

GENEVA, Switzerland, January 14, 2002 (ENS) - Experts opened talks today in Geneva to develop policies and technical guidelines for a major treaty on transporting and discarding toxic pollutants, according to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Today and Tuesday, the Convention’s Technical Working Group will hammer out the technical guidelines for the environmentally sound management of waste lead-acid batteries, metal and metal compounds, plastic wastes, persistent organic pollutants (POPs), and the dismantling of ships.


Shipbreaking yard on India's west coast. (Photo by Shailandra Yeshwant)

These issues are all covered by the Basel Convention on the Control of the Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal.

The Legal Working Group will meet on January 18 and 19 to address the issue of monitoring the implementation and compliance, emergency fund and financial mechanism, and review the legal implications of the dismantling of ships.

The two Groups will meet jointly for the first time Wednesday and Thursday to evaluate progress on the decisions adopted in 1999 by ministers and senior officials at the Convention’s last Conference of the Parties.

The experts will consider adjusting the lists of wastes considered hazardous or non-hazardous under the treaty, and will debate proposals on asphalt wastes and edible oil wastes, like frying oils.

The results of this week’s talks will help set the stage for the sixth meeting of the Conference of the Parties, tentatively scheduled for December 9 through 13, 2002 in Geneva.

The Basel Convention was adopted in March 1989 after a series of notorious toxic cargos from industrialized countries drew public attention to the dumping of hazardous wastes in developing and East European countries, according to UNEP.

The treaty, which has 149 parties, obliges its members to ensure that such wastes are managed and disposed of in an environmentally sound manner. Governments are expected to minimize the quantities that are transported, to treat and dispose of wastes as close as possible to where they were generated, and to minimize the generation of hazardous waste.