BCCC-AFRICA CHAMPIONED THE INCLUSION OF HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCES WITHIN THE LIFECYCLE OF ELECTRICAL ELECTRONIC EQUIPMENT IN THE GLOBAL PLAN OF ACTION (GPA) OF SAICM AT THE THIRD INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON CHEMICALS MANAGEMENT (ICCM3) 17-21 SEPTEMBER 2012 IN NAIROBI, KENYA.
SAICM Emerging Policy Issues (Resolutions 1/2&3)
The SAICM ICCM3 adopted the omnibus resolution III/2, on emerging policy issues which included lead in paint, chemicals in products, and hazardous substances within the life cycle of electrical and electronic products, nanotechnology and manufactured nanomaterials and the newly nominated issue of endocrine-disrupting chemicals in a single omnibus resolution. It also addressed perfluorinated chemicals and the transition to safer alternatives in Resolution III/3.
The Conference also endorsed the addition tothe Global Plan of Action of new activities related tonanotechnologies and manufactured nanomaterials as well as hazardous substances within the life cycle of electrical and electronic products. This is a great news after the hard and difficult negotiations of this issue as BCCC-Africa championed this issue from ICCM2 to the first Open Ended Working Group (OEWG 1) of SAICM up to ICCM3.
The background information to this landmark decision to give priority in a comprehensive manner to the issue of hazardous substances within the life cycle of electrical electronic equipment date back to ICCM2in Geneva in May 2009 (SAICM/ICCM.2/INF/36 Background information in relation to the emerging policy issue of electronic waste). At this conference Prof. Oladele Osibanjo, Director BCCC-Africa on behalf of the African region proposed electronic waste (e-waste) supported by Peru as an emerging policy issue. The fact was recognized that electronic products have through lnformation Communication Technology (ICT) transformed the world to unprecedented high levels of development.Nonetheless the dark side of this accomplishment is the myriad of hazardous substances including brominated flame retardants and heavy metals such as lead, cadmium and mercury in e-products. The unprecedented high volume of e-products, their rapid obsolescence and the largely uncontrolled dumping of end of life e-products in developing countries which lack the capacity and resources to manage them in an environmentally sound manner has made the issue a global challenge requiring urgent international cooperative actions.
ICCM2 in its decision II/4 adopted hazardous substances within the life-cycle of electrical and electronic products as an emerging policy issue, The decision invites the participating organizations of the Inter-Organization Programme for the Sound Management of Chemicals (IOMC) and the Secretariats of the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of HazardousWastes and their Disposal and the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants to develop, plan and convene, within available resources, a workshop to consider issues in relation to electrical and electronic products, based on a life-cycle approach. The workshop would seek to identify and assess where issues relating to the sound management of chemicals arise during the lifespan of electrical and electronic products, including the design of such products, green chemistry, recycling and disposal, in particular in the context of the requirements of the Basel and Stockholm Convention, and would develop a series of options and recommendations for future work, through existing mechanisms to the extent possible, which would be provided at the intersessional meeting and to the International Conference on Chemicals Management at its third session for its consideration and possible cooperative actions.
The international workshop on hazardous substances within the life cycle of electrical and electronic products, held in Vienna from 29 to 31 March 2011 with Prof. Osibanjo as Chair. A total of 90 participants compr ising representat ives of governments, industry, civil society, intergovernmental organizations and the academia attended the workshop. It made several recommendations including the inclusion of hazardous substances within the lifecycle of electrical and electronic products in the global plan of action (GPA) of SAICM.
Participants in the SAICM fourth African regional meeting, held in Nairobi from 5 to 8 April 2011,considered the outcomes of the Vienna internationalworkshop on hazardous substances within the life cycle of electrical and electronic products,. The African regional meeting subsequently adopted a resolution calling for the inclusion of activities on hazardous substances in electrical and electronic products in the Global Plan of Action and prepared a justification document of the kind called for in the procedure adopted by the ICCM2. The justification document was considered by the Open-ended Working Group at its first meeting. In its decision OEWG.1/1 II, the Openended Working Group recommended that, at its third session, the Conference (ICCM3) include new activities related to hazardous substances within the life cycle of electrical and electronic products in the Global Plan of Action. The ICCM3 then endorsed the addition to the Global Plan of Action of new activities related to hazardous substances within the life cycle of electrical and electronic products, including the work areas of e-products green design, environmentally sound manufacturing of e-products and awarenessraising for e-products.
ICCM3 decision is welcome news. This is because the emerging issue on hazardous substances within the life cycle of electrical and electronic products has as its objective to reduce the risk of end of life eproducts through activities that design out the hazardous chemicals and finding suitable substitutes and replacements for these hazardous substances. It also provides a flagship for synergy among the MEAs on chemicals and waste issues through SAICM as there are roles for Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions as well as other stakeholders including IOMC, WHO, ILO, industry, Civil Society Organizations and Academia respectively.