23 May 2019 Story Environmental rights and governance

Trends in generation, handling and transboundary movement of hazardous and other wastes

For proper monitoring and implementation of the global conventions, transparency and availability of information from the key actors involved is important. The Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Convention Secretariat released in 2018 a ‘Waste without frontiers II’ report, which highlights efforts made by Parties to implement the Convention as well as their positive results towards achieving the objectives of the Convention.

Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Convention have an obligation under its Article 13 to transmit information on an annual basis (also known as ‘national reporting’) in a format adopted by the Conference of the Parties, and through the Secretariat of the Convention, to the Conference of the Parties. The picture below shows the number of Parties and number of countries involved in reported movements.

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Source: The Secretariat of the Basel Convention, 2018.

According to Waste without frontiers II, some of the challenges that the Secretariat faces to give efficient, comparable and conclusive data include:

  • Large gaps in data generation of hazardous and other wastes
  • Differences in national definition of hazardous wastes
  • Different measuring and reporting systems
  • Conflicting information on the legalities of movement of waste outside the scope of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Convention

In a given year, only 50 per cent of the Parties to the Convention fulfill their reporting obligations, with only 25 to 30 per cent of the reports carrying quantitative information on how much hazardous and other wastes were generated. An increase from 9.3 to 14.4 million tonnes in transboundary movements of household wastes was recorded between 2007 and 2015, feeding into the collective amount of increase in transboundary movement of waste. In the year 2015, the lower-middle income and the higher-middle income countries were responsible for the increase in the generation of hazardous waste, with a range from 256–259 tonnes in 2007 to 390–394 tonnes in 2015. The upper-middle income countries also contributed to the increase of generated household waste by approximately 12 per cent.

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Graph showing the trend of waste generation from the year 2007 to 2015

Parties to the Basel Convention have an obligation to take appropriate measures to ensure that transboundary movement of waste is reduced to the minimum, consistent with the environmentally sound and efficient management of wastes. To better support Parties’ efforts to implement the Convention and provide them with more information, the following measures could be taken:

  • Increase the number of Parties transmitting annual national reports. A higher rate of reporting would provide valuable information about the evolution of generation of waste at the global level, as well as providing Parties with information about national efforts to implement and enforce the Convention.
  • Improve the quality of the Parties’ national reporting data. Providing clear and complete information to the Secretariat by clearly indicating whether the data on hazardous waste fall under national definitions or under the Convention’s definitions is key.
  • Provide more information explaining the differences between data provided over a given period of time. This will help with supporting future efforts to understand the trends while doing the national reporting.

To read the full report, please go to: Waste without frontiers II.

For more information, please contact: Charles.Avis[at]un.org I Niamh.Brannigan[at]un.org.

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