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Ewaste And The Basel Convention Essay

1489 words - 6 pages

Our world is constantly changing around us, with technology regularly advancing and improving. ‘Old’ technology and devices are being exchanged for newer objects. These discarded items contain hazardous waste (both to human health and the environment) and more waste is created during the manufacturing process. This creates a vast amount of electronic waste, henceforth referred to as ewaste. The amount of ewaste is growing exponentially; according to the US Environmental Protection Agency an estimate of 5 to 10 percent increase worldwide is expected each year (STEP Initiative). Even more alarming is that only 5% of this amount is being recovered and is properly disposed (STEP Initiative). ...view middle of the document...

With the creation of international mandates and customary international law and tightening of national environmental laws, proper disposal rose significantly in costs. Due to this and the constant increase in the amount of ewaste, Western more developed countries were searching for ways to cut costs of disposal, and thus created trans-boundary disposal into non-western, poorer countries. Trans-boundary disposal was not just limited to hazardous waste, but also to garbage in general. However, industrialized countries of the world produce roughly ninety percent of all hazardous waste, and attempt to pawn their waste (and all of its consequences) onto poorer countries and peoples, thus creating an unfair system. After a number of incidents such as the Khian Sea waste disposal incident of 1986 , international discussions started on how to regulate ewaste. In 1987, the UN Environmental Program (UNEP) adopted the Cairo Guidelines and Principles for the Environmentally Sound Management of Hazardous Wastes, which set forth recommendations regarding the export of hazardous waste. Following their adoption, UNEP sought to embody its similar principle in a convention, with the Basel Convention of March 1989 as the product of various governments and NGOs previous efforts and discussions to regulate ewaste.
The convention aims to reduce generation of waste, promote environmentally sound management of such wastes no matter where it is disposed, restrict trans-boundary disposal and movement of hazardous waste, as well as a regulatory system applying to cases where trans-boundary principles are allowed (UNEP, Basel Convention Overview). Environmentally Sound Management is described as “taking all practicable steps to ensure that hazardous wastes or other wastes are managed in a manner which will protect human health and the environment against the adverse effects which may result from such wastes” (Article 2, paragraph 8). The Convention address 27 specific categories of waste and 18 waste streams that makes hundreds of waste materials, and has a series of technical guidelines to ensure technical requirements are in place that detail environmentally sound management of ewaste (UNEP, Simplified Text of the Basel Convention). All of the 181 state parties that have ratified are obligated to inform the competent authority within the state the nature of the waste being transported (Basel Convention, Article 4) as well as full details of all the parties involved (Basel Convention, Annex VA). The convention also established a procedure to deal with the cases of illegal traffic of hazardous waste, when prior notification has not occurred or proper consent is acquired through fraud (Basel Convention, Article 9).
The Nairobi Declaration on the Environmentally Sound Management of Electrical and Electronic Waste was adopted at the ninth meeting of the Conference of the Basel Convention in 2007. The declaration provides a mandate and roadmap for future strategic action...

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