Toxic Trade News / 26 September 2008
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Toxic Waste Exports in Asia Alarming
Experts Call for Governments to Ratify Basel Ban
BAN Press Release
26 September 2008 (Bangkok, Thailand) – Experts on toxic waste trade from the Philippines, the Netherlands and Thailand on toxic waste trade unanimously raised the alarm over the growing toxic waste trade that is happening in Asia and called for greater and immediate controls over the burgeoning trade.

The experts were at hand before the Foreign Correspondent's Club of Thailand (FCCT) to brief the international press and answer questions concerning the global trade of toxic wastes during the Green Lunch for Journalists, which was part of the ongoing series sponsored United Nations Environment Programme and FCCT.

Mr. Huib van Westen, from the Netherlands Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment, one of the invited experts, informed those gathered that the European Union has banned the export of toxic wastes from the EU to developing countries and they are strictly enforcing this ban.

“Electronic waste is a huge problem, and we are seeing in the EU a lot of exports of this type of waste to Asia,” explained Mr. Van Westen. “We are doing our best to stop it, but there are exports that are able to get away. One of the loopholes exporters are using is the question of whether a waste is a product or not.”

“We are asking greater cooperation from governments in Asia to send back the illegal shipments to Europe if the illegal exports originated from EU and give us information on detected illegal shipments in their region,” added van Westen.

Electronic waste or e-wastes, as it is commonly called, are considered toxic wastes under the Basel Convention on the Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, because they contain a mixture of toxins such as lead, cadmium, and mercury which are recognized as toxic to human health and the environment.

“Our worries in Asia is compounded by the existence of the rash of Economic Partnership Agreements that Japan has been pushing,” stated Atty. Richard Gutierrez, Executive Director of Ban Toxics!, the Asia-Pacific office of the Basel Action Network. “These trade agreements blur the distinction between wastes and products, by expressly redefining Japanese wastes to be Japanese goods. Countries signing the agreement are bound to observe the new definition.”

The experts were in Bangkok for the 2nd Multilateral Environmental Agreement-Regional Enforcement Network, which gathers customs and environmental officials in the Asia-Pacific region to discuss enforcement of environment treaties and prevention of international environmental crime such as illegal exports of toxic wastes, ozone depleting substances, and endangered species.

“The Basel Ban Amendment which prohibits the export of toxic waste from developed countries such as the EU to developing countries can further enhance the control that is needed to prevent toxic wastes ending up in Asia. Asian governments will be well placed against this threat if they ratify the Basel Ban,” explained Gutierrez.



For More Information:

Richard Gutierrez, BAN A/P, tel. 0917 506 7724, email:

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