Geneva conference takes aim at hazardous waste

Government officials are attending a conference this week in Geneva to consider a strategic plan aimed at accelerating action to protect human health and the environment from hazardous wastes.

Ministers and government officials are attending a conference in Geneva from 9 – 13 December to decide on further action to alleviate the burdens imposed on society and the environment by hazardous and other wastes.

The agenda features the launch of a partnership with major mobile-phone manufacturers, a ministerial roundtable on ‘e-wastes’ and the release of new data on global trends in waste generation and transport.

The Sixth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 6) to the Basel Convention on the Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal will consider a strategic plan running through the year 2010 aimed at accelerating action to protect human health and the environment from hazardous wastes.

The meeting also expects to adopt technical guidelines on the disposal and recycling of lead-acid batteries, plastic wastes, biomedical and healthcare wastes and obsolete ships.

‘With some 150 million tonnes of hazardous wastes produced every year, the industrial world needs to accelerate its investments in cleaner production technologies and processes that can reduce wastes,’ said Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme.

‘Governments and industry must also work together to improve recycling systems and treatment plants. In all cases, poorer countries and communities must not be forced to shoulder the burdens of our industrial economy by being on the receiving end of hazardous wastes that they did not create,’ he said.

On Thursday morning, 12 December, officials representing nine leading mobile phone manufacturers from around the world will announce their intention to form a partnership with the Basel Convention on the environmentally sound management of end-of-life mobile phones.

The mobile phones signing ceremony will be followed by a ministerial roundtable on the emerging issue of ‘e-wastes’. The communications, information and entertainment revolution of the past two decades has led to an increase in electronic and electrical wastes. Industry executives are expected to participate in the debate.

Other issues on the agenda include a discussion of efforts to combat illegal trade in hazardous wastes, a decision to establish a mechanism for compliance and implementation, and the development of regional centres as the main instruments of the Convention to assist in building capacity in member governments.

On the web