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Position paper - Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Waste and Their Disposal

13 Feb 2023

The Basel Convention is an international treaty that controls cross-border movements of hazardous and certain ‘other’ waste to promote environmentally sound management (ESM) of those materials within the Convention’s signatory countries. The Basel Parties – the 190 global governments that have ratified the Convention and implemented its provisions through national legislation – are convening at two key meetings in 2023. In the context of the recent expansion of materials subject to Basel controls and current proposals to amend the Convention, governments must use these meetings to strike the right balance between ensuring the proper management of wastes and facilitating the movement of valuable used equipment to support the circular economy.   

The below key recommendations to Basel Parties would ensure that the Basel Convention does not create legal uncertainty and is consistent with circular economy approaches:

  1. Endorse final adoption of the Basel Technical Guidelines on E-Waste, which clarify the distinction between waste electronics and electrical equipment (WEEE), which is covered by the Convention, and used electric and electronic equipment (UEEE), which is not covered by the Convention.
  2. Reject proposals to classify ‘preparing for reuse’ or ambiguous ‘catch-all’ activities as waste activities under Basel to avoid erecting obstacles to product reuse, repair, remanufacturing and refurbishment operations.
  3. Reject proposals to classify all WEEE as presumptively hazardous under the Convention.
  4. Ensure further legal clarity in the definition of ‘hazardous characteristics.’
  5. Improve and modernise Basel’s antiquated primary control system, the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) procedure. 
  6. Advance discussions on the waste classification of lithium batteries.