Malaysia's Decision to Refuse CRT Glass from the US
BAN Information Bulletin
3 April 2009 – Recently, the Malaysian government decided to no longer accept any CRT glass from the United States, as of December 31, 2008. There appears to be confusion about what role, if any, BAN played in this nation’s decision. Here are the facts:
Fact: CRT tubes and glass are specifically listed as a regulated waste under the Basel Convention. (www.basel.int Annex VIII, A 2010) The Basel Convention defines hazardous waste as a material that is destined for either recycling or disposal that contains toxic constituents listed in Annex I (such as lead) unless it can be shown not to exhibit a hazardous characteristic found in Annex III (such as toxicity). In order to facilitate implementation of the Convention, the Parties created Annex VIII, which was intended to examine various waste streams to determine which wastes do possess both the hazardous constituents and the hazardous characteristics. Thus, if a waste is listed on Annex VIII, it has already been examined by the Parties and shown to be hazardous, and therefore there is little possibility to exempt it from the Basel Convention, other than declaring it as a non-waste because it is not destined for recycling or disposal operations.
Fact: Parties to the Basel Convention (such as Malaysia) are legally bound not to trade in Basel wastes with non-Parties (such as the United States) [Article 4, Paragraph 5 www.basel.int). Malaysia has also ratified the Basel Convention’s Ban Amendment, and has implemented it in a way designed to ban the importation of hazardous wastes from developed countries.
Fact: BAN and ETBC’s e-Stewards program supports CRT glass going into the glass-to-glass market (e.g. for the manufacture of new CRTs) if it is done in compliance with the Basel Convention. Thus, based on a widely-shared interpretation of the Basel definitions, our program requires that, prior to export:
- The phosphors and other potentially toxic dusts must be removed from the CRT cullet and managed responsibly in developed countries, and
- The ‘competent authority’ of the importing country must formally consent to accept the cleaned cullet as a non-waste because it essentially meets specifications to be used as a direct replacement feedstock in a primary manufacturing process to create new consumer products without further processing, other than quality control – that is, it is not going to a recycling destination and no further cleaning or processing is needed prior to entering into primary manufacturing.
Action Taken: Because we became aware of the fact that Malaysia was importing cullet as a waste for further cleaning and processing, BAN (whose mission involves pressing for compliance with the Basel Convention and the Basel Ban) sent a letter on October 7, 2008 to the Malaysian competent authority asking for their position on cleaned cullet relative to the Basel Convention. In the letter, BAN iterated its support for glass-to-glass recycling and for the interpretation as non-waste, as described above. We offered to support Malaysia or another Basel country in approaching all the Basel Parties to formally request that cleaned, furnace-ready cullet be explicitly exempted from Basel regulation (for all Basel nations). BAN did not call for a prohibition of the importation but rather offered a long term solution. Instead of accepting the idea we offered (to declare the cleaned cullet a non-waste and work with us to amend the Basel Annexes accordingly), the Malaysian government instead made the decision to stop the import of all CRT glass from the US, a non-Party to the Basel Convention. BAN, of course, has no authority to make decisions for countries on import prohibitions. We continue to seek Basel Convention compliance but at the same time encourage the designation of cleaned cullet going to glass-to-glass primary processing facilities as a non-waste under the Basel Convention.
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