From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Basel Convention
Mains level : Curbing Plastic Pollution
- Nations agreed to add plastic to the Basel Convention, a treaty that regulates movement of hazardous materials from one country to another, in order to combat the dangerous effects of plastic pollution around the world.
Amending the Basel Convention
- Parties to the Basel Convention have reached agreement on a legally-binding, globally-reaching mechanism for managing plastic waste.
- The Geneva meeting amended the 1989 Basel Convention on the control of hazardous wastes to include plastic waste in a legally-binding framework.
- The new amendment would empower developing countries to refuse “dumping plastic waste” by others.
- The resolution means contaminated and most mixes of plastic wastes will require prior consent from receiving countries before they are traded, with the exceptions of mixes of PE, PP and PET.
- For far too long, developed countries like the U.S. and Canada have been exporting their mixed toxic plastic wastes to developing Asian countries claiming it would be recycled in the receiving country.
What is Basel Convention?
- The Basel Convention stands for the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal.
- It is an international treaty that was designed to reduce the movements of hazardous waste between nations, and specifically to prevent transfer of hazardous waste from developed to less developed countries (LDCs).
- It aims to assist LDCs in environmentally sound management of the hazardous and other wastes they generate.
- The Convention was opened for signature on 22 March 1989, and entered into force on 5 May 1992.
- As of October 2018, 186 states and the EU are parties to the Convention. Haiti and the United States have signed the Convention but not ratified it.
- It does not, however, address the movement of radioactive waste.
- The Convention is also intended to minimize the amount and toxicity of wastes generated, to ensure their environmentally sound management.
Why such move?
- Instead, much of this contaminated mixed waste cannot be recycled and is instead dumped or burned, or finds its way into the ocean.
- Plastic waste pollution has reached “epidemic proportions” with an estimated 100 million tonnes of plastic now found in the oceans.
- Even though the U.S. and a few others have not signed the accord, they cannot ship plastic waste to countries that are on board with the deal.
- Much of the contaminated mixed waste cannot be recycled and is instead dumped or burned.
Ban on two chemicals
- The meeting also undertook to eliminate two toxic chemical groups — Dicofol and Perfluorooctanoic Acid, plus related compounds.
- The latter has been used in a wide variety of industrial and domestic applications, including non-stick cookware and food processing equipment, as well as carpets, paper and paints.