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Basel Convention Definition

Basel Convention Definition of Waste

End-of-use electronic equipment that meets the Basel Convention’s definitions for “waste” and “hazardous waste” would be subject to import and export controls and shipment prohibitions under the Convention.The Basel Convention defines wastes broadly as substances or objects which are disposed of or are intended to be disposed of or are required to be disposed of by the provisions of national law». The Convention then defines disposal by reference to lists of disposal operations, such as landfill or incineration, including recycling operations. Repair of computer equipment, however, is not a listed operation, and so computer equipment that is truly intended to be repaired is not defined as waste.

Basel Convention Hazardous Wastes

Equipment classified as waste that is derived from waste streams or contains a constituent listed in Annex I of the Convention (e.g. lead, cadmium, mercury, beryllium) is presumed to be hazardous, unless it can be demonstrated that the waste does not possess any hazardous characteristics provided under Annex III. The Basel Convention does not provide any guidance on the development of testing protocols, leaving their design and implementation to national governments. However, for specific waste streams technical guidelines have been adopted for implementation by Parties.

The Convention provides further classification guidance on the classification of electronic equipment. Under Annex VIII the following wastes are categorized as hazardous wastes when they contain Annex III characteristics:

(i) A1180, waste electrical and electronic assemblies and scrap (“e-scrap”) are presumed to be hazardous if they contain one or more of the following components: batteries listed under Annex VIII; mercury switches; CRT glass; other activated glass and PCB capacitors; and any additional component that contains an Annex I constituent;

(ii) A1150 - precious metal ash from incineration of printed circuit boards not included in Annex IX;

(iii) A1170 - waste batteries not specified on Annex IX that contain Annex I constituents to an extent to render them hazardous; (A1190: waste metal cables coated or insulated with plastics containing or contaminated with coal tar, PCB, lead, cadmium, other organohalogen compounds or other Annex I constituents;

(iiii) A2010 - glass waste from cathode-ray tubes and other activated glass. Wastes defined as hazardous in domestic legislation (Article 1(1) (b) of exporting, importing or transit countries) are also covered by the Convention. Companies handling electronic waste should be mindful of national legislation implementing the Basel Convention to ensure compliance with applicable country requirements.