Basel Convention Working Group Considers Marine Litter, Nanomaterials, Sound Waste Management
photo courtesy of BRS Secretariat
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The OEWG discussed ongoing work on new and updated technical and legal guidelines and additions to the Convention’s “toolkit” on environmentally sound management of hazardous and other wastes.

In addition, delegates considered the Convention’s role in combating marine plastic litter and microplastics, determining future work on wastes containing nanomaterials, and reviewing how to modernize the Convention’s annexes.

6 September 2018: The 11th meeting of the Open-ended Working Group of the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal (OEWG11) addressed ongoing work on new and updated technical and legal guidelines and additions to the Convention’s “toolkit” on environmentally sound management (ESM) of hazardous and other wastes.

In addition, OEWG11 addressed the issue of marine plastic litter and microplastics, responding to the task by the Conference of Parties (COP) to consider the Convention’s role in combating marine plastic litter and microplastics, determining future work on wastes containing nanomaterials, and reviewing how to modernize the Convention’s annexes.

Many speakers said the Basel Convention is the most appropriate body in the international environmental landscape to address marine plastics.

The Earth Negotiations Bulletin reports that delegates rose to the “challenge of keeping one of the older multilateral environment agreements relevant by addressing emerging challenges and increasing complexity in global waste management and trade,” as they worked cooperatively and concluded the meeting ahead of schedule. At the close of the meeting, OEWG11 adopted decisions on, inter alia:

  • practical manuals and guidance on environmentally sound management;
  • technical guidelines on the environmentally sound management (ESM) of wastes consisting of, containing or contaminated with persistent organic pollutants (POPs);
  • technical guidelines on transboundary movements of electric and electronic wastes (e-waste) and used electrical and electronic equipment, in particular regarding the distinction between waste and non-waste under the Basel Convention;
  • technical guidelines on incineration on land and specially engineered landfills;
  • types of waste for which practical guidance on the development of national inventories would be useful;
  • electronic approaches to notification and movement documents;
  • marine plastic litter and microplastics;
  • the creation of a new partnership on plastic waste and its possible terms of reference;
  • consideration of an amendment of the Convention annexes reclassifying plastic wastes;
  • waste containing nanomaterials;
  • comments on the development of guidance by the Basel Convention Committee Administering the Mechanism for Promoting Implementation and Compliance;
  • the way forward for a review of Convention Annexes I, III and IV and related aspects of Annex IX;
  • the Partnership on Household Waste; and
  • cooperation with the World Customs Organization (WCO) on the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System.

On marine plastics, many speakers said the Basel Convention is the most appropriate body in the international environmental landscape to address this issue. The proposed partnership on plastic waste would be established at COP14 in May 2019, with the goal of, inter alia, minimizing the generation of plastic wastes and reducing and eliminating the discharge of plastics into the environment, particularly the marine environment.

OEWG11 convened from 3-6 September 2018, at the International Conference Centre in Geneva, Switzerland. Over 400 participants attended the meeting, including delegates representing 134 parties, six Basel Convention Regional Centres (BCRCs), UN agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and business and industry. [IISD RS coverage of OEWG11]


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