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  5. Fourteenth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention (COP14) Held

Fourteenth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention (COP14) Held

May 14, 2019

From April 29 to May 10, 2019, the 14th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention* (COP14) was held in Geneva, Switzerland, bringing together representatives of the governments of member countries, officials from international organizations and NGOs, and other stakeholders. As representatives of Japan, officials in charge from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, and the Ministry of the Environment attended the meeting.

COP14 decided on the amendment of the Annexes to the Basel Convention and the establishment of a Partnership on Plastic Wastes. It also provisionally adopted the Technical Guidelines on Transboundary Movements of E-Waste and Used Electrical and Electronic Equipment (E-waste refers to wastes of electrical or electronic equipment).

*Note: Outline of the Basel Convention (Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal)
The convention stipulates provisions requiring: the State of export to notify the competent authority of the State of import (and the State(s) of transit) and receive consent for the transboundary movement of hazardous wastes or other wastes for disposal or recycling in advance; businesses to carry necessary documents during the transboundary movement; State of export or exporters to accord the duty of re-import where exporters have conducted improper exports or violated sanctions, etc. COP14 was held as part of the simultaneous meetings of the Conferences of the Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions.

1. Amendment of the Annexes to the Basel Convention

COP14 decided on the amendment of the Annexes to the Basel Convention to control unclean plastic wastes under the Convention. Specifically, it held discussions on the review of Annexes II, VIII and IX stipulating criteria for determining wastes to be controlled under the Convention and the scope of such wastes, and made the following decisions on the respective Annexes. The amended Annexes will come into force on January 1, 2021.

These amended Annexes are not to prohibit exports of “unclean plastic wastes.” After the enforcement of these amended Annexes, if a company in any of the member countries intends to export such wastes, it is required to acquire prior informed consent from the destination country involving the exports.

Annexes Details Highlights of the amended Annexes
Annex II (plastic wastes controlled under the Convention) List of “Other Wastes” to be controlled under the Convention New listing of plastic wastes, excepts those listed in Annexes VIII and IX
Annex VIII (plastic wastes controlled under the Convention) List of examples of hazardous wastes New listing of plastic wastes as hazardous wastes that have hazardous features identified based on discarding processes or chemical characteristics
Annex IX (plastic wastes not controlled under the Convention) List of examples of hazardous wastes not controlled under the Convention Further clarification of the scope of clean plastic wastes that are appropriate for recycling

Moreover, COP14 decided to newly establish a working group. The working group will aim to hold discussions on the revision of the Guidelines for Environmentally Sound Management of Plastic Wastes. The results of these discussions are scheduled to be examined at Open Ended working Group to be held in 2020.

2. Establishment of the Partnership on Plastic Wastes

COP14 decided to establish a Partnership on Plastic Wastes to encourage member countries to manage plastic wastes in an environmentally sound manner. The partnership will aim to collect information on the progress in member countries’ efforts for reducing plastic wastes, raise public awareness of this issue and advance other activities. The partnership will embark on its activities after 2020.

3. Provisional adoption of the Technical Guidelines on Transboundary Movements of E-Waste and Used Electrical and Electronic Equipment

COP14 provisionally adopted the Technical Guidelines on Transboundary Movements of E-Waste and Used Electrical and Electronic Equipment. The guidelines provide a list of criteria for member countries in objectively distinguishing between waste and non-waste under the Basel Convention when companies intend to import or export used electrical and electronic equipment for reuse, aiming to help member countries appropriately determine which authorities, customs and other related organizations of originating and destination countries must apply which specific laws and regulations to the respective imports and exports.

Division in Charge

Resource Efficiency and Circular Economy Division, Industrial Science and Technology Policy and Environment Bureau