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Basel Convention May Be Up for Modernization

Last week, ISRI participated as an observer to the first meeting of the Expert Working Group on Review of Annexes. This stems from the 13th Conference of Parties (COP) meeting in April 2017 to review Annexes I, III, IV, and IX for consistency and modernization. This meeting was not intended to yield any final proposals or decisions.

According to Secretariat documents, the meeting’s objective was “to improve the legal clarity of the Basel Convention to protect human health and the environment against the adverse effects which may result from the generation and management of hazardous wastes and other wastes.” The meeting took place over the course of three and half days and included government representatives from Basel parties (plus the United States as an observer) and observers from ISRI, the Bureau of International Recycling (BIR), the Information Technology Industry (ITI), and the Basel Action Network.

The group is reviewing Annexes I (Categories of Wastes to be Controlled), III (List of Hazardous Conditions), IV (Disposal Operations), and IX (materials not considered wastes and thus not bound by the Basel Convention). There are several overarching concerns to come from the meeting: how to adapt the Basel Convention to 180+ different country waste management systems (or vice versa); simply defining terms like environmentally sound management, recycling, recovery, reclamation, reuse, and direct reuse, and the applicability of these terms; how differences in systems, culture, and language would overcome the lack of consensus on these definitions.

One of the main concerns is a proposal to categorize certain recycling operations – including dismantling, sorting, compacting, pelletizing, and shredding, to name a few – as “mechanical treatment.”  Working closely with BIR, ISRI will continue to push back on this proposal and to increase awareness about the scope of recycling operations worldwide.

Please contact Adina Renee Adler with any questions. 

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