The Basel Convention strengthens controls on the global trade in WEEE


The prior informed consent of the importing state and any transit state is already required before one country party can ship WEEE containing hazardous materials to another.

Amendments to Annexes II, VIII and IX of the Convention, adopted at a meeting in Geneva on June 17, will mean that all transfers of WEEE, whether hazardous or not, will require prior informed consent from January 1 2025.

With 189 parties, including the UK, the Basel Convention is an international treaty designed to reduce the movement of hazardous waste, and specifically to prevent the transfer of hazardous waste from developed countries to less developed countries.

The amendments were first tabled by Ghana and Switzerland in 2020 and exempt WEEE pre-treated in the exporting country from a “safe” concentration of metals or plastics already listed on the Convention’s non-hazardous list, Annex IX.

In a statement, the United Nations Environment Program welcomed the amendments, saying: “This bold move not only protects vulnerable countries from unwanted imports, but also promotes the environmentally sound management of e-waste with advanced technology. state-of-the-art and therefore contributes to a circular economy.

“Deadly Shows”

Jim Puckett, executive director of the nonprofit US campaign group Basel Action Network (BAN), also welcomed the amendments. He said: “Exports of e-waste, especially to developing countries, typically cause environmental harm even when the material is deemed non-hazardous.

Workers with WEEE in Agbogbloshie, an area of ​​Accra, Ghana, infamous for being “the world’s largest e-waste landfill” (Photo: Shutterstock)

“Due to the deadly emissions created when e-waste is thermally processed or during primitive acid-stripping operations, this new agreement will go a long way towards protecting the environment and human health worldwide.”

BAN also welcomed the decision to exempt WEEE pre-treated in the exporting country from a “safe and non-hazardous” concentration of metals or plastics. The campaign group said the ruling would “protect legitimate recycling” and “enable more electronics to be recycled into market-grade secondary resources rather than dumping them in landfills or incinerators”.


However, BAN says it remains “a major loophole heavily promoted by electronics manufacturers”.

Exporters can circumvent the Conventions’ rules on the transboundary movement of waste if they claim that their exports need to be repaired.

According to BAN, 22 developing countries took the floor at the Geneva meeting to “demand” that more work be done on this section of the guidelines, which defines when WEEE is waste and when it is not.

Mr Puckett said: “Although everyone realizes that repair plays an important role, it cannot be used as a free ticket to export all kinds of waste on an empty claim and thus hide from the rules of the Basel road. This opens the barn door to all sorts of exploitative junk trade.

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