Seventh meeting of the Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee (POPRC.7)

Geneva, Switzerland
from 10 to 14 October 2011

The Seventh meeting of the Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee (POPRC) was held at the Varembé Conference Centre.

The Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee (POPRC) adopted twelve decisions at its seventh meeting, including one recommending that the chemical hexabromocyclododecane be listed under the Convention. The Committee also decided that chlorinated naphthalenes and hexachlorobutadiene, two chemicals proposed for listing under the convention, met the screening criteria of Annex D of the convention and to prepare draft risk profiles for these chemicals. The Committee agreed to continue its evaluation of a third chemical, pentachlorophenol and its salts and esters. The Committee also concurred to work on a number of other issues during the intersessional period, including the assessment of alternatives to endosulfan, DDT and use of PFOS in open applications, toxic interactions, SCCP, and climate change and POPs.

Highlights

The Committee reviewed five chemicals that have been nominated as substances to be added to the Convention:

  • Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD): The Committee reviewed and adopted the risk management evaluation on HBCD and recommended to the Conference of the Parties that it consider listing the chemical in Annexes A, B and/or C to the Convention. The Committee also decided to collect further information on chemical alternatives to HBCD and on the production and use of HBCD. At its eighth meeting, the Committee will consider whether to specify the annex to the Convention and possible exemptions to be considered by the Conference of the Parties in listing HBCD. The chemical, a flame retardant used mainly in polystyrene, was proposed for listing under the Convention by Norway in 2008. HBCD is also used in textile coatings and in high impact polystyrene for electrical and electronic equipment.
  • Chlorinated naphthalenes (CN): The Committee examined the proposal by the European Union to list CN under the Convention and applied the screening criteria specified in Annex D. It decided that CN, except for monochlorinated naphthalene, met the screening criteria of Annex D of the convention and to prepare a draft risk profile. CN were used for decades for wood preservation, as additive to paints and engine oils, and for cable insulation and in capacitors. Until the 1970s, CN were high volume chemicals.
  • Hexachlorobutadiene (HCBD): The Committee also examined the proposal by the European Union to list hexachlorobutadiene under the Convention and decided that it met the screening criteria of Annex D and to prepare a draft risk profile. HCBD was a widely used fumigant used to control pests and as an industrial solvent. HCBD also occurs as a by-product during production of other chlorinated solvents.
  • Pentachlorophenol (PCP) and its salts and esters: Concerning the third chemical proposed for listing under the Convention by the European Union, the Committee came to the conclusion that it would defer its consideration until its eighth meeting. An intersessional working group would additionally review studies on the fate and transport of pentachlorophenol and pentachloroanisole. PCP is an organochlorine compound used as a pesticide and a disinfectant.
  • Short-chained chlorinated paraffins (SCCP): The Committee agreed to revise the relevant parts of the draft risk profile to incorporate information on toxicological interactions of chlorinated paraffins during the intersessional period, and to compile issues and principles to be applied in the interpretation of the Annex E criteria. SCCP are a group of industrial chemicals used in metalworking, and the formulation and manufacturing of products such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastics and metalworking fluids.

The Committee also concurred to assess alternatives to endosulfan, DDT and PFOS in open applications, expanding its work into a new area recently mandated by the Parties to the Convention. The Committee will furthermore continue existing work on guidance on alternatives to PFOS and its derivatives; the work programme on brominated diphenyl ethers and PFOS, its salts and PFOSF; developing a draft approach to consideration of toxicological interactions when evaluating chemicals proposed for listing; and enhancing effective participation in the Committee’s work. Besides, the Committee examined implications of the 2011 study, Climate Change and POPs: Predicting the Impacts and agreed to develop guidance on evaluating how global warming processes affect the fate, transport and toxicity of POPs.

Press releases

New era for plastic waste management as governments agree landmark actions on chemicals and waste

The 2019 Triple COPs concluded successfully with a raft of decisions to protect human health and the environment from the harmful effects of chemicals and wastes, including plastic waste.

New era for plastic waste management as governments agree landmark actions on chemicals and waste

New era for plastic waste management as governments agree landmark actions on chemicals and waste

Geneva, 10 May 2019 - Decisions on plastic waste have been reached today in Geneva, as approximately 180 governments adopted a raft of decisions aimed at protecting human health and the environment from the harmful effects of hazardous chemicals and waste.

Pollution from plastic waste, acknowledged as a major environmental problem of global concern, has reached epidemic proportions with an estimated 100 million tonnes of plastic now found in the oceans, 80-90% of which comes from land-based sources1. Governments this week amended the Basel Convention to include plastic waste in a legally-binding framework which will make global trade in plastic waste more transparent and better regulated, whilst also ensuring that its management is safer for human health and the environment. At the same time, a new Partnership on Plastic Waste was established to mobilise business, government, academic and civil society resources, interests and expertise to assist in implementing the new measures, to provide a set of practical supports – including tools, best practices, technical and financial assistance - for this ground-breaking agreement.

Other far-reaching decisions from the two weeks included the elimination of two toxic chemical groups, which together total about 4,000 chemicals, listed into Annex A of the Stockholm Convention, namely Dicofol and Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) and its salts and PFOA-related compounds. The latter has till now been used in a wide variety of industrial and domestic applications including non-stick cookware and food processing equipment, as well as a surfactant in textiles, carpets, paper, paints and fire-fighting foams.

Important progress was also made under the Rotterdam Convention, which provides a legally-binding framework for information exchange and informed decision-making in the trade of certain hazardous pesticides and industrial chemicals. Two chemicals, the pesticide phorate and the industrial chemical hexabromocyclododecane were added to Annex III of the convention, making them subject to the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure, through which countries can decide on future imports of these chemicals. A further decision, to approve procedures and mechanisms on compliance with the Rotterdam Convention – seen as a crucial step for further improving implementation of this key convention - was adopted with great appreciation by Parties.

Working for two weeks in Geneva under the theme of “Clean Planet, Healthy People: Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste”, approximately 1,400 delegates from around 180 countries converged for the meetings of the Conferences of Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions (Triple COPs). Participants benefited from the numerous opportunities and events to exchange information on alternatives to these chemicals, as well as best practices.

Speaking at the closing session of the Triple COPs, Rolph Payet, Executive Secretary (UNEP) of the three conventions, said that “I’m proud that this week in Geneva, Parties to the Basel Convention have reached agreement on a legally-binding, globally-reaching mechanism for managing plastic waste. Plastic waste is acknowledged as one of the world’s most pressing environmental issues, and the fact that this week close to 1 million people around the world signed a petition urging Basel Convention Parties to take action here in Geneva at the COPs is a sign that public awareness and desire for action is high.”

“We were able to list two out of 7 candidate chemicals and will continue working closely with parties to identify feasible alternative solutions to hazardous pesticides, taking due account of food security and market access aspects” added Hans Dreyer, Executive Secretary (FAO) of the Rotterdam Convention.

Notes for Editors:

The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Waste and their Disposal is the most comprehensive international environmental agreement on hazardous and other wastes and is almost universal, with 187 Parties. With an overarching objective of protecting human health and the environment against the adverse effects of hazardous wastes and other wastes, its scope covers a wide range of wastes defined as “hazardous” based on their origin and/or composition and characteristics, as well as two types of wastes defined as “other wastes” – household waste and incinerator ash. See www.basel.int

Plastic Waste

With an estimated 100 million tonnes of plastic in our seas, 80-90% of which has come from land-based sources, the high public profile of this issue is understandable. Reducing waste generation at source, and improving waste management thereafter, would go a long way towards solving this problem. For more on this see:  http://www.brsmeas.org/?tabid=4332&blogId=5169 and http://www.brsmeas.org/tabid/7656/Default.aspx

The Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure (PIC) for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade, is jointly administered by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and UN Environment (UNEP). The 161 Parties to this legally-binding Convention share responsibility and cooperate to safely manage chemicals in international trade. As of the end of this COP, 52 chemicals and pesticides are listed in its Annex III. The Convention does not introduce bans but facilitates the exchange of information among Parties on hazardous chemicals and pesticides, and their potential risks, to inform and improve national decision making. In addition, through the PIC Procedure, it provides a legally-binding mechanism to support national decisions on the import of selected chemicals and pesticides in order to minimize the risk they pose to human health and the environment. See www.pic.int

Listing of Chemicals: Pesticides and Industrial Chemicals under the Rotterdam Convention

The newly-listed chemicals are phorate (a pesticide) and hexabromocyclododecane (an industrial chemical) these chemicals would be included in the prior informed consent (PIC) procedure enabling better-informed decision-making on the trade in chemicals, thereby protecting human health and the environment. More information on these chemicals is available at: http://www.pic.int/tabid/1185/Default.aspx

The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants is a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from chemicals that remain intact in the environment for long periods, become widely distributed geographically, accumulate in the fatty tissue of humans and wildlife, and have harmful impacts on human health or on the environment. Exposure to Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) can lead to serious health effects including certain cancers, birth defects, dysfunctional immune and reproductive systems, greater susceptibility to disease and damage to the central and peripheral nervous systems. The Convention requires its Parties to take measures to eliminate or reduce the release of POPs into the environment. As of today, this legally-binding Convention has 182 Parties, giving it almost universal coverage. As of the end of this COP, 30 chemicals of global concern are listed under the Stockholm Convention. See www.pops.int

Listing of Chemicals: Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) under the Stockholm Convention

The two new chemicals listed in Annex A to the Stockholm Convention are the pesticide Dicofol, and Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) its salts and PFOA-related compounds (some applications with time-limited exemptions). Listing in Annex A to the Convention obliges Parties to eliminate these chemicals from use. The two chemicals are listed on the basis of a robust review process addressing risks, management options and alternatives by the UN’s POPs Review Committee. Dicofol is used as a miticide on a variety of field crops, fruits, vegetables, ornamentals and tea and coffee and is known to cause skin irritation and hyperstimulation of nerve transmissions in humans as well as being highly toxic to fish, aquatic invertebrates, algae and birds. PFOA is a widely-used industrial chemical used in the production of non-stick cookware and food processing equipment, as well as a surfactant in textiles, carpets, paper, paints and fire-fighting foams. As a substance of very high concern, it is known to be linked to major health problems including kidney cancer, testicular cancer, thyroid disease and hypertension in pregnancy. More information on these chemicals is available in factsheets at: http://chm.pops.int/tabid/243/Default.aspx

For BRS conventions general media enquiries see: www.brsmeas.org or contact:

Charlie AVIS, Public Information Officer (UN Environment), Geneva +41-79-730-4495

 

 

 


1 Data from “Marine litter plastics and microplastics and their toxic chemicals components: the need for urgent preventive measures” by Frederic Gallo et. al. in Environmental Sciences Europe 2018; 30(1): 13, at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5918521/

1.6 million deaths could be prevented annually through the sound management of chemicals and waste

To mark World Health Day on 7th April, read the BRS Secretariat’s Press Release calling for greater action to prevent illness and death from unsound management of chemicals and waste.

1.6 million deaths could be prevented annually through the sound management of chemicals and waste

1.6 million deaths could be prevented annually through the sound management of chemicals and waste

Geneva, 5 April 2019 – Recently, the World Health Organization estimated the ‘disease burden’ preventable through sound management and reduction of chemicals in the environment at around 1.6 million lives per year.1 As the international community marks World Health Day, three UN conventions whose aim is the sound management of chemicals and waste are stressing the need for urgent and greater actions from governments to reduce the number of illnesses and death from hazardous chemicals and wastes.

Causes of death attributable to unsound management of chemicals and wastes include cancers, cardiovascular diseases, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, congenital anomalies, chronic kidney disease, poisonings, and self-harm.2

One of the pathways taken by hazardous chemicals into the human body is through our food and liquid intake. Persistent Organic Pollutants (or POPs) are highly toxic chemicals known to be carcinogenic, which accumulate in the fatty tissue of mammals, birds and fish. POPs become more concentrated in higher reaches of the food chain, culminating in humans, potentially leading to serious health effects including certain cancers birth defects dysfunctional immune and reproductive systems, greater susceptibility to diseases, and damage to the central and peripheral nervous systems. Toxic chemicals present in the air also impact our health if we inhale them.

The Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions work to protect people from these harmful impacts in a multitude of ways. With 187, 161, and 182 parties respectively, the three conventions are nearly universal and are legally-binding, covering the life-cycle of hazardous chemicals and wastes, protecting human health and the environment at every stage. This starts with the reduction and elimination of toxic chemicals, includes the minimisation and environmentally sound management of wastes such as electronic waste, mercury waste, plastic waste and more, as well as the creation of innovative public-private partnerships to tackle household waste, mobile phones, and computing equipment.

For example, the Basel Convention – which in March 2019 marked 30 years since adoption and which is primarily concerned with providing the legal framework for controlling transboundary movements of hazardous wastes and other wastes – has developed globally-agreed technical guidelines on how to manage different waste streams in an environmentally sound manner, including the prevention of impacts on human health from lead acid batteries, healthcare and medical waste, and electronic waste, to name just three.

The Rotterdam Convention features transparent trade regulation measures and an obligatory information-sharing system to enable and ensure informed decision-making from governments regarding the refusal, or import and proper use, of more than 50 hazardous industrial chemicals and agricultural pesticides already listed under the Convention. This has led to lowered health risks to people handling such substances, especially including vulnerable groups such as the rural poor, and women and children.

Meanwhile Parties to the Stockholm Convention have listed 28 of the world’s most toxic substances, leading to measurable lowered human exposure as a result of these chemicals’ reduction or elimination, as demonstrated through the Convention’s Global Monitoring Plan which found lowered levels globally in polychlorinated diphenyls (PCBs), DDT and dioxins and furans.3

At the same time, the need for urgent action to achieve the sound management of chemicals and wastes was a key concern at the recent Fourth UN Environment Assembly, where a Resolution4 was adopted on this subject calling on governments and all other relevant stakeholders to take note of progress achieved by the chemicals and waste conventions and to encourage all stakeholders to seek the establishment of permanent programs of information directed to consumers and the public in general, on the risks generated by chemicals and raise awareness of the responsibilities related to their management.

Further decisions which will help prevent illness and reduce preventable deaths will be taken at the next Conference of the Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, in Geneva from 29 April to 10 May 2019, the theme for which is “Clean Planet, Healthy People: Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste”. Draft decisions to be discussed include the listing under the Stockholm Convention of the fluorinated chemical Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA), widely used as a water and oil repellent and found to contaminate drinking water supplies in many communities and Dicofol, a highly toxic organochlorine pesticide used to control mites on many crops and known to be harmful to humans and the environment; the listing of seven additional chemicals under the Rotterdam Convention; and a new Basel Convention partnership on plastic waste and amendments to better incorporate plastic waste into the existing control mechanisms of the Convention.

Notes for Editors:

The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Waste and their Disposal is the most comprehensive international environmental agreement on hazardous and other wastes and is almost universal, with 187 Parties. With an overarching objective of protecting human health and the environment against the adverse effects of hazardous wastes, its scope covers a wide range of wastes defined as “hazardous” based on their origin and/or composition and characteristics, as well as two types of wastes defined as “other wastes” – household waste and incinerator ash. See www.basel.int

The Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure (PIC) for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade, is jointly administered by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and UN Environment (UNEP). The 161 Parties to this legally-binding Convention share responsibility and cooperate to safely manage chemicals in international trade. To date 50 chemicals and pesticides are listed in its Annex III. The Convention does not introduce bans but facilitates the exchange of information among Parties on hazardous chemicals and pesticides, and their potential risks, to inform and improve national decision making. In addition, through the PIC Procedure, it provides a legally-binding mechanism to support national decisions on the import of selected chemicals and pesticides in order to minimize the risk they pose to human health and the environment.See www.pic.int

The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants is a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from chemicals that remain intact in the environment for long periods, become widely distributed geographically, accumulate in the fatty tissue of humans and wildlife, and have harmful impacts on human health or on the environment. Exposure to Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) can lead to serious health effects including certain cancers, birth defects, dysfunctional immune and reproductive systems, greater susceptibility to disease and damage to the central and peripheral nervous systems. The Convention requires its Parties to take measures to eliminate or reduce the release of POPs into the environment. As of today, this legally-binding Convention has 182 Parties, giving it almost universal coverage. To date, 28 chemicals of global concern have been listed under the Stockholm Convention.

For BRS conventions general media enquiries see: www.brsmeas.org or contact:

Charlie AVIS,
Public Information Officer (UN Environment), Geneva
+41-79-730-4495

 

 


1 World Health Organization, 201, The public health impact of chemicals: knowns and unknowns: data addendum for 2016. www.who.int/iris/handle/10665/279001

2 Ibid.

3 See Stockholm Convention factsheets available at: chm.pops.int/?tabid=5559

4 UNEP, 2019, Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste, Resolution UNEP/EA.4/L.9 - Available at: https://papersmart.unon.org/resolution/uploads/k1900787.pdf

 

Women disproportionately vulnerable to health risks from chemical and waste pollution

To mark International Women’s Day, read our new Press Release on why women and girls are more likely than men to suffer adverse effects from chemicals and waste.

Women disproportionately vulnerable to health risks from chemical and waste pollution

Women disproportionately vulnerable to health risks from chemical and waste pollution

8 March 2019 - Due to a combination of socio-economic, cultural, and physiological factors, women and girls are disproportionately vulnerable to the harmful impact of pollution from chemicals and waste. At the same time, in many countries, women are increasingly assuming leadership roles in raising awareness, and protecting their communities, from these impacts.

The adverse effects of hazardous chemicals and wastes on different groups of the population vary depending on the level of exposure, behavioural patterns, age, biological effect (for example, endocrine disruption), geographical location, nutritional status and co-exposure to other chemicals. Certain types of chemicals, such as persistent organic pollutants (POPs), can build up to dangerous levels in humans causing adverse reproductive, developmental, immunological, hormonal, and carcinogenic effects with varied impacts on vulnerable groups of the population.

Women are often more exposed to chemicals and waste as a result of different socio-economic roles, defined along gender lines. According to a study in Indonesia, and indeed in many countries, women are still expected to perform the bulk of domestic work in and around the house, including the sorting, removal, and disposal of household waste, which in many cases include open burning of plastics and other household waste. This practice exposes women to highly toxic persistent organic pollutants, heavy metals with significant impacts on their health and as potential child bearers. Recent body burden analysis has shown that such chemicals do get passed out to children during pregnancy.1

In farming, more than 40% of agricultural work in developing countries is done by women and girls. Because women are twice as likely to be illiterate2 as men, vital chemical and safety information is often overlooked, increasing the likelihood of mis-handling and consequent unintended exposure to pesticides.

Cultural norms also impact on women and girls’ vulnerabilities. Of the estimated 13,000 chemicals3 used in beauty and hygiene products only about 10% have been evaluated for safety. A recent study concluded that women of colour, independent of socio-economic status, are most exposed to higher levels of such chemicals4 as a result of using products such as skin-whiteners and hair products, which often contain toxic substances, including heavy metals such as mercury and lead.

Such socio-economic and cultural factors are compounded by physiological differences between women and men, since their smaller size and role in the reproductive cycle, women are proportionately more heavily impacted than men even when exposure is the same. Up to 33% of a woman’s chemical burden can be passed on to her baby during gestation, through the placenta, as well as via breastfeeding.5 Women are often not even aware of the health risks they are facing, especially given that some of these chemicals can remain in the body for long periods and manifest themselves later in time.

On the other hand, there has been progress. Women are increasingly stepping forward to take on leadership roles to protect the most vulnerable segments of our population from the potentially harmful effects of certain chemicals and wastes. Both the Gender Heroes publication and the Gender Pioneers initiative under the BRS Conventions point to examples of the empowerment of women in marginalised communities and the impacts that their actions have had, for example, in the promotion of ecological agriculture, in the reduction of use of highly hazardous pesticides, in the protection of children from the toxics found in toys, and in the safer recovery and management of recyclable elements of e-waste from landfill sites. For more information on the BRS Gender Heroes and Gender Pioneers see: http://www.brsmeas.org/?tabid=4759

These examples emphasise the need for enhanced gender considerations and sound management of chemicals and wastes in the broader push for implementing the sustainable development goals (SDGs). Indeed the relationship between chemicals and wastes and gender, under SDG 5, requires constant emphasis, attention, and mainstreaming. This will be further explored during the next Conference of the Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, in Geneva from 29 April to 10 May 2019, the theme for which is “Clean Planet, Healthy People: Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste”.

Notes for Editors:

The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Waste and their Disposal is the most comprehensive international environmental agreement on hazardous and other wastes and is almost universal, with 187 Parties. With an overarching objective of protecting human health and the environment against the adverse effects of hazardous wastes, its scope covers a wide range of wastes defined as “hazardous” based on their origin and/or composition and characteristics, as well as two types of wastes defined as “other wastes” – household waste and incinerator ash. See www.basel.int

The Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure (PIC) for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade, is jointly administered by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and UN Environment (UNEP). The 161 Parties to this legally-binding Convention share responsibility and cooperate to safely manage chemicals in international trade. To date 50 chemicals and pesticides are listed in its Annex III. The Convention does not introduce bans but facilitates the exchange of information among Parties on hazardous chemicals and pesticides, and their potential risks, to inform and improve national decision making. In addition, through the PIC Procedure, it provides a legally-binding mechanism to support national decisions on the import of selected chemicals and pesticides in order to minimize the risk they pose to human health and the environment. See www.pic.int

The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants is a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from chemicals that remain intact in the environment for long periods, become widely distributed geographically, accumulate in the fatty tissue of humans and wildlife, and have harmful impacts on human health or on the environment. Exposure to Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) can lead to serious health effects including certain cancers, birth defects, dysfunctional immune and reproductive systems, greater susceptibility to disease and damage to the central and peripheral nervous systems. The Convention requires its Parties to take measures to eliminate or reduce the release of POPs into the environment. As of today, this legally-binding Convention has 182 Parties, giving it almost universal coverage. To date, 28 chemicals of global concern have been listed under the Stockholm Convention.

For more on gender aspects of chemicals and waste, see http://www.brsmeas.org/?tabid=3651 or contact Susan WINGFIELD, Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions (UNEP), Geneva: +41-79-233-3218, +41-22-917-78406, susan.wingfield@brsmeas.org

For BRS conventions general media enquiries see www.brsmeas.org or contact Charlie AVIS, Public Information Officer (UN Environment), Geneva +41-79-730-4495

 


1 From the BRS Scoping Study on Gender in Indonesia, full report here: http://www.brsmeas.org/?tabid=5816

2 Both statistics from FAO data summarised in the infographic at: http://www.fao.org/resources/infographics/infographics-details/en/c/180754/

3 Zota & Shamasunder, 2017, The environmental injustice of beauty: framing chemical exposures from beauty products as a health disparities concern, American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Vol 127(4):418 online: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28822238

4 Ibid

5 UNDP, 2017, Gender Mainstreaming - a Key Driver of Development in Environment & Energy. Available online: http://www.undp.org/content/dam/undp/library/Environment%20and%20Energy/Sustainable%20Energy/Gender_Mainstreaming_Training_Manual_2007.pdf

Improved governance called for to prevent 12,000 million tonnes of plastic waste by 2050

Read the BRS Press Release on marine litter, as BRS and Barcelona conventions join forces to help beat plastic pollution.

Improved governance called for to prevent 12,000 million tonnes of plastic waste by 2050

Improved governance called for to prevent 12,000 million tonnes of plastic waste by 2050

7th December 2018: Geneva, Switzerland - With UN Environment reporting that 12,000 million tonnes of plastic will be in landfills or in the natural environment by 2050 under current trends1, the international community mobilised in Geneva, Switzerland this week to explore ways to tackle marine plastics litter, one of the most visible and pressing environmental issues of our time.

Improved governance, a holistic approach, a possible new global treaty, strengthening existing initiatives and instruments, and better coordination among them, were considered as options, which will go to the next UN Environment Assembly, UNEA-4 in Nairobi next March, for consideration and actioning.

One existing legally-binding instrument, the Basel Convention, was recognised as a valuable avenue for governments and stakeholders to tackle plastic pollution, given it is almost universal and has a number of relevant features, with amendments being discussed at its next conference of the parties next year. Focussing on tackling waste generation at source and at the household level, a Basel Convention Partnership on Household Waste was initiated in 2017 to explore and disseminate innovative solutions, an integrated approach, avoidance and minimisation of waste at source as well systems for the collection, separation, transport, storage, treatment, processing, recycling and where necessary, final disposal, of household waste. More information is available here: http://www.basel.int/?tabid=5082.

Responding to the call for urgency and to improve actions in the Mediterranean region, strengthened cooperation between international agreements was announced on Friday 6th December, with the secretariats of the Barcelona Convention2 and the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions3 signing a new memorandum of understanding aimed at boosting regional efforts including to beat plastic pollution.

Next, the Basel Convention’s Conference of the Parties (COP), in April/May 2019, will consider a range of additional steps to better address the challenges of plastics wastes4 including proposed amendments to the Convention to better address plastic wastes5; a set of further actions and establishing a new Partnership on Plastic Waste designed as an international vehicle for public-private cooperation, sharing of best practices, and technical assistance in the area of at-source measures to minimise and more effectively manage plastic waste, thus helping tackle the global environmental problem of marine plastic litter. More information on minimising plastic waste is available here: http://www.basel.int/?tabid=6068.

NOTES for EDITORS:

The Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions, or BRS Secretariat, supports parties implement the three leading multilateral environment agreements governing chemicals and waste, in order to protect human health and the environment. See www.brsmeas.org for more info and follow @brsmeas twitter feed for daily news.

The Barcelona Convention was adopted in 1976 and aims to protect and improve the marine and coastal environment in the Mediterranean, whilst promoting regional and national plans contributing to sustainable development. Today, 21 countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, as well as the European Union, are Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention. The UN Environment / Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP) is a cooperative effort to support the implementation of the Barcelona Convention. See web.unep.org/unepmap for more info.

Media enquiries, interviews:

Charlie Avis
Public Information Officer
BRS Secretariat
Charles.avis@brsmeas.org
Tel: +41-79-7304495

 


1. UN Environment UNEP/AHEG/2018/1/INF/3: Combating marine plastic litter and microplastics: an assessment of the effectiveness of relevant international, regional and subregional governance strategies and approaches; p.9;  available at : https://papersmart.unon.org/resolution/uploads/unep_aheg_2018_inf3_full_assessment_en.pdf

2. Barcelona Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean.

3. Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade and Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants

 

UN scientists recommend listing of 5 more chemicals

The Rotterdam and Stockholm scientific subsidiary bodies’ meetings - CRC13 and POPRC13 - successfully concluded recently in Rome, and the official Press Release is now online.

UN scientists recommend listing of 5 more chemicals

UN scientists recommend listing of 5 more chemicals
 
Press Release: UN chemical experts pave way for more sustainable management of chemicals

The outcomes of the recent Rotterdam Convention CRC-12 and Stockholm Convention POPRC-12 meetings are now available online, featuring proposed new chemicals listings at the COPs in Geneva in 2017.

Press Release: UN chemical experts pave way for more sustainable management of chemicals

Press Release: UN chemical experts pave way for more sustainable management of chemicals
 
Outcomes of POPRC11 available now

The recommendation to list in Annex A decabromodiphenyl ether - or c-decaBDE, a highly toxic and persistent flame retardant - was the highlight of the 4-day POPRC meeting which ended at 2100 on 23 October 2015, in FAO Rome.

Outcomes of POPRC11 available now

Outcomes of POPRC11 available now

Taking important practical steps to protect human health and the environment, the Stockholm Convention’s Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee held its 11th meeting at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Headquarters in Rome, 19-23 October 2015.

Persistent Organic Pollutants are amongst the most toxic substances found on earth and pose serious threats to human health and the environment, and can be found in human breast milk, air, water and animals, including those living in polar regions. Specific effects of POPs can include cancer, allergies and hypersensitivity, damage to the central and peripheral nervous systems, reproductive disorders, and disruption of the immune system. Some POPs are also considered to be endocrine disrupters, which, by altering the hormonal system, can damage the reproductive and immune systems of exposed individuals as well as their offspring; they can also have developmental and carcinogenic effects.

The Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee (POPRC), a subsidiary body of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), recommended the inclusion of one additional chemical under the Convention in Annex A - decabromodiphenyl ether or c-decaBDE - a highly toxic and persistent flame retardant commonly used in the aeronautical, automobile, and textile industries. The decision to list decaDBE will be taken at the next Conference of the Parties to the Stockholm Convention, in 2017.

The Committee also agreed and adopted the risk profile for short-chained chlorinated paraffins, moving them to the next stage of the listing process, which requires the development of a risk management evaluation. SCCP uses include in metalworking, paints, adhesives and sealants, leather fat liquors, plastics and rubber, flame retardants, and textiles and polymeric materials.

The Committee further agreed that pentadecafluorooctanoic acid, PFOA, its salts and PFOA-related compounds, meets the Annex D criteria to be considered a POP, namely persistence, bioaccumulation, long-range transport and adverse effects. The next step is to prepare a draft risk profile for this widely used chemical. PFOA-related substances are used in fire-fighting foams, wetting agents and cleaners, textiles and leather, paper and cardboard (e.g. food packaging), paints and lacquers and others.

Further decisions were adopted concerning new information on unintentional releases of Hexachlorobutadiene (HCBD); accepting the Guidance on alternatives to perfluorooctane sulfonic acid, its salts (PFOS), perfluorooctane sulfonyl fluoride and related chemicals; on ensuring effective participation in the work of the Committee; and on approving the Committee’s workplan for the next intersessional period until POPRC12. On dicofol the Committee agreed to form an intersessional working group to revise the draft risk profile for submission and adoption at the next POPRC meeting in 2016.

Demonstrating very clearly the integrated and cross-cutting nature of chemicals in peoples’ everyday lives, the meetings brought together government-appointed chemical experts from all regions as well as specialised NGOs and the private sector. Deliberations included not only the toxicology of POPs but also consideration of alternatives, risk management, and socio-economic aspects.

“In moving forwards towards eventual listing of these chemicals, the Committee has recommended actions that will protect human lives and the environment against some of the world’s most dangerous toxic chemicals,” said Professor Estefania Gastaldello Moreira, from the University of Londrina (Brazil), Chairperson of the POPs Review Committee. “We believe that only through sound management of chemicals and wastes can the globally-agreed Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, be achieved, which are crucial for society to overcome the twin challenges of poverty eradication and climate change”.

The meeting of the POPs Review Committee will be followed back-to-back by the Rotterdam Convention’s Chemical Review Committee 11th meeting, 26-28 October 2015, at the same venue.

Note for Editors:

The Stockholm Convention on POPs regulates chemicals that are persistent, bioaccumulative, toxic, and evaporate and travel long distances through the air and through water, to protect human health and the environment globally. Article 8 of the Convention entails the reviewing process of new chemicals and Annex D, Annex E and Annex F specify the information and criteria required for the review.

The POPs Review Committee consists of thirty-one scientific experts appointed by the Conference of the Parties to the Stockholm Convention charged with undertaking scientific review of chemicals proposed for listing.

The flame retardant decabromodiphenyl ether (commercial mixture, c-decaBDE) is an additive flame retardant that has a variety of applications including in plastics, textiles, adhesives, sealants, coatings and inks. c-decaBDE containing plastics are used in electrical and electronic equipment, wires and cables, pipes and carpets. In textiles, c-decaBDE is mainly used in upholstery, window blinds, curtains and mattresses for public and domestic buildings, and in the transportation sector.

For more information, please contact:

For POPRC/Stockholm Convention: www.pops.int

Kei OHNO WOODALL, Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions (UNEP), Geneva: +41-79-2333218, +41-22-917-78201, kei.ohno-woodall@brsmeas.org

Charlie AVIS, Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions (UNEP), Geneva: +41-79-730-4495, charles.avis@brsmeas.org

For CRC/Rotterdam Convention: www.pic.int

Christine FUELL, Secretariat of the Rotterdam Convention (FAO), Rome: + 39-06-5705-3765, christine.fuell@fao.org


Read the ICCM4 Press Release

Outcomes of the 4th International Conference on Chemicals Management, featuring governments, civil society, and private sector, 28 September to 2 October in Geneva.

Read the ICCM4 Press Release

Read the ICCM4 Press Release

 

Parties adopt key decisions at 2015 Triple COPs

Finishing at 03:45 in the morning of Saturday, 16 May 2015, the Meetings of the Conferences of Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions are over, with several key decisions taken.

Parties adopt key decisions at 2015 Triple COPs

Parties adopt key decisions at 2015 Triple COPs

Geneva, Switzerland - 16 May, 2015

Significant steps were agreed upon early this morning by parties to the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions, as the 2015 Triple COPs drew to a close.

Staged under the theme “From Science to Action: Working for a Safer Tomorrow” from 4 to 15 May 2015, almost 1,200 participants from 171 countries converged on Geneva to push forward the chemicals and waste agenda at this biennial event.

A number of technical guidelines for the management of waste under the Basel Convention, four new listings (three under the Stockholm and one under the Rotterdam Conventions - polychlorinated napthalenes, hexachlorobutadiene, and pentachlorophenol and its salts and esters; and methamidophos respectively), and continued and strengthened synergies and implementation arrangements were the highlights of the decisions adopted on the final day. Meanwhile several chemicals considered were not listed, but instead deferred or made subject to special inter-sessional working group focus.

Basel Convention technical guidelines, aimed at assisting Parties to better manage crucial waste streams and move towards environmentally sound management (ESM), were adopted covering mercury waste and persistent organic pollutants (POPs) waste (one general and 6 specific waste-streams). Of high significance is the adoption on an interim basis of the technical guidelines concerning the transboundary movement of e-waste and used electronic and electrical products.

The BC technical guidelines on electronic, or e-waste provide much-needed guidance on how to identify e-waste and used equipment moving between countries, with the aim of controlling illegal traffic. Adoption came just days after UNEP released new data suggesting that as much as 90% of e-waste is dumped illegally, costing countries as much as US 18.8 $ billion annually and posing severe hazards to human health and the environment, particularly in Africa. Designed to provide a level playing field for all parties to the Convention, the guidelines will support and also encourage genuine recovery, repair, recycling and re-use of non-hazardous electronic components and equipment.

Regarding those pesticides where consensus could not be reached for listing, including paraquat and fenthion formulations, and trichlorfon, Clayton Campanhola, FAO Executive Secretary of the Rotterdam Convention, commented that “hazardous pesticides are not helping countries to produce more food with less, on the contrary: if badly managed, they cause negative impacts on natural resources and the health of rural communities and consumers.” In this respect, Parties requested additional technical assistance and support to identify alternatives to the use of hazardous pesticides which – if combined with integrated pest management (IPM) and agro-ecological approaches – form the basis for sustainable agricultural and rural development.

Whilst many Parties expressed their disappointment at the inability to reach consensus required for listing more of the chemicals proposed to be listed under the Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, the BRS Executive Secretary Rolph Payet stressed the significance of the steps taken in noting that “our Conventions’ joint and mutually reinforcing objective is the protection of human health and the environment, and the Guidelines and additional listings decided upon by Parties during these two weeks continue to move us in this crucial direction. We have to place the sustainable management of chemicals and waste in the context of peoples’ lives, especially the more than 1 billion people on our planet who continue to live in absolute poverty and who strive to better themselves in whatever ways they can. We will never waver in our moral and political responsibilities towards the most vulnerable people in this world, and I believe strongly that the three conventions continue to offer the best framework for moving jointly towards a greener, more inclusive economy, and a safer tomorrow for all”.

Notes for editors:

  • The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal is the most comprehensive international environmental agreement on hazardous and other wastes and has 183 parties.

  • The Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade promotes shared responsibility and cooperative efforts among its 154 Parties.

  • The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) is a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from chemicals that remain intact in the environment for long periods, become widely distributed geographically, accumulate in the fatty tissue of humans and wildlife, and have harmful impacts on human health or on the environment. It has 179 Parties.

  • Polychlorinated napthalenes, Hexachlorobutadiene, and Pentachlorophenol and its salts and esters, are persistent organic pollutants (POPs) posing serious threats to human health and the environment.

  • Methamidophos is an extremely toxic organophosphate insecticide, causing serious adverse effects to human health, particularly to neural, immunity and reproductive systems.

  • E-waste data from the UNEP report “Waste Crime – Waste Risks: Gaps in Meeting the Global Waste Challenge” UNEP and GRID-Arendhal/Nairobi (2015), 67pp, ISBN: 978-82-7701-148-6

For more information, please refer to:

Website: www.brsmeas.org

BRS Secretariat

Kei Ohno Woodall, Programme Officer,

kei.ohno-woodall@brsmeas.org tel: +41-79-2333218

BRS Press

Charlie Avis, Public Information Officer

Charles.avis@brsmeas.org tel: +41-79-7304495

FAO

Christine Fuell, Senior Technical Officer, Rotterdam Secretariat, Rome:

Christine.fuell@fao.org tel: +39-06-57053765

FAO Press

George Kourous, Information Officer, FAO Rome:

George.kourous@fao.org tel: +39-06-57053168

 

Global chemical conventions work together to continue supporting productive and sustainable agriculture, while protecting human health and the environment

Continuing the implementation of scientific synergies among global chemical agreements, the Rotterdam Convention’s Chemical Review Committee held its tenth meeting at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Headquarters in Rome, 22-24th October 2014, back-to-back with the tenth meeting of the Stockholm Convention’s POPs Review Committee, 27-30th October 2014.

Global chemical conventions work together to continue supporting productive and sustainable agriculture, while protecting human health and the environment

Global chemical conventions work together to continue supporting productive and sustainable agriculture, while protecting human health and the environment

Continuing the implementation of scientific synergies among global chemical agreements, the Rotterdam Convention’s Chemical Review Committee held its tenth meeting at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Headquarters in Rome, 22-24th October 2014, back-to-back with the tenth meeting of the Stockholm Convention’s POPs Review Committee, 27-30th October 2014.

The Chemical Review Committee (CRC), a subsidiary body of the Rotterdam Convention, made up of technical experts from across the world, met from 22-24th October and reviewed notifications of final regulatory action on three industrial chemicals and adopted draft decision guidance documents for the pesticide Methamidophos; and for the severely hazardous pesticide formulation .

Methamidophos is an insecticide widely used on a variety of crops including wheat, fruit trees, tomatoes, cotton, soybean and potatoes. Both chemical and non-chemical (Integrated Pest Management) alternatives are readily available. Fenthion[1] is used as a spray for bird control and can be replaced by a number of non-chemical measures including protection with nets, nest removal, bird scaring and trapping.

The recommended decision guidance documents will go forward for consideration of inclusion of these chemicals under the Rotterdam Convention at the forthcoming meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to be held in Geneva in May 2015.  “In doing so, we contribute not only to an informed decision making but also to the protection of the health of farmers and their families and with this we have a positive impact on food security at large”, said Christine Fuell, the Coordinator of the Rotterdam Convention Secretariat within the FAO. If approved at the COP, the Convention’s Prior Informed Consent Procedure will then apply also to these pesticides.

Following from that, the Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee (POPRC), a subsidiary body of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), met from 27-30th October and recommended the listing of pentachlorophenol and its salts and esters (PCP, sometimes commonly known as “angel dust”) within the list of POPs. The Committee thus recommended the elimination of its future production and use, while providing for a time-limited specific exemption for its production and use for utility poles and cross-arms. In doing so, the Committee adopted the risk management evaluation and proposed a recommendation for labelling requirements warning against the re-use for non-specified purposes. Whilst in the past this chemical was used as a biocide, insecticide, disinfectant and anti-microbial agent, these uses have been increasingly phased out although it is still used for preservation of, for example, wooden railway cross ties (or “sleepers”).

The Committee further considered a proposal for listing dicofol a pesticide and acaricide used in many countries on a variety of fruit, vegetable, and ornamental crops. Chemically related to DDT, a substance already listed in Annex B of the Convention, dicofol will now be scrutinized by the Committee for its potential persistent organic pollutants properties as the next step of the review process.

The work of the Committee members was described as very inclusive, very precise, and of high quality. Members also provided ideas and input for the preparation of the Science Fair that will be held during the upcoming meetings of the COPs in 2015. Reflecting the overall theme of the COPs “From Science to Action, Working Today for a Better Tomorrow” the Science Fair will highlight the work of Committees such as CRC and POPRC in providing a solid scientific base for decision-making and policies related to sound chemicals management, a key cornerstone in governments efforts to transition towards a greener, more inclusive economic path.

For more information on these and other outcomes of the two committee meetings, please contact:

Contact:

Christine FUELL, Secretariat of the Rotterdam Convention (FAO), Rome: + 39-06-5705-3765+ 39-06-5705-3765, christine.fuell@fao.org.

Kei OHNO WOODALL, Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions (UNEP), Geneva: +41-22-917-78201, kei.ohno-woodall@brsmeas.org .

Charlie AVIS, Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions (UNEP), Geneva: +41-79-730-4495+41-79-730-4495, charles.avis@brsmeas.org .

For more information: www.pops.int (Stockholm Convention) or www.pic.int (Rotterdam Convention).


POPRC.7 Photo Gallery

Photo gallery: Seventh meeting of the Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee (POPRC7)
Seventh meeting of the Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee (POPRC)
Geneva, Switzerland
10 - 14 October 2011