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IPEN

A Toxics-Free Future

IPEN Participates in 2019 BRS Regional Meetings

The Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Regional Meeting for Asia Pacific was held from March 4th-8th, 2019 in Suzhou, China. 

IPENers from four different countries participated in the meeting representing the Asia Pacific region of IPEN.

Prior to the regional meeting, an IPEN preparatory meeting was held, along with an experience-sharing session with students from Duke University and fellow NGOs from China. This was organized by Shenzhen Zero Waste at Duke University, Kunshan, and took place on March 3rd.

Here are a few interventions IPENers made at the meeting:

Ram Charitra Sah (CEPHED) on Mercury Emissions: 

Mr. Charitra Sah intervened and raised the issue of mercury emissions from Metal plating work in Nepal. He informed the delegation that Mercury Initial Assessments for Nepal are completed and that he is an expert researching the health effects of mercury exposure. He said he was particularly concerned about the issue of metal plating, because it is not covered in the Minamata text or the toolkit. It is also an issue in neighbouring countries such as Bangladesh, India and China. Mercury Emissions from this sector are actually double than total emissions from other sources. 

Tripti Arora (Toxics Link and IPEN Regional Coordinator for South Asia) on PFAs exemptions:

PFOA should be listed in Annex A with no specific exemptions. If exemptions are granted, they should be for specific products and the listing should require labelling new products that contain PFOA so that Parties can fulfil requirements under Article 6 as done previously for HBCD (SC-6/13). 

Due to the costly, highly polluting nature of firefighting foams, and the availability of cost-effective, technically feasible non-fluorinated alternatives, no specific exemptions should be adopted for either PFOS or PFOA production and/or use in firefighting foams. 

Specific exemptions or acceptable purposes for the following 11 uses of PFOS should be ended: photo-imaging, photo-resist and anti-reflective coatings for semiconductors; etching agent for compound semiconductors and ceramic filters; aviation hydraulic fluid; certain medical devices; photo masks in semiconductor and LCD industries; hard metal plating; decorative metal plating; electric and electronic parts for some color printers and color copy machines; insecticides for control of red imported fire ants and termites; and chemically-driven oil production.

The following 3 acceptable purposes should be converted into specific exemptions: metal plating (hard metal plating only in closed loop systems); firefighting foams; insect bait for control of leaf-cutting ants from Attaspp. and Acromyrmexspp. Sulfluramid should be named in the PFOS listing and its use sharply limited to cultivation of specific crops.

Ziyad Al-Alawneh (LHAP), on plastic waste:

Large amounts of plastic waste end into the terrestrial and marine environment generating significant environmental and economic damage. They are estimated to account for over 80% of marine litter. Single-use plastic items are a major component of the plastic leakage and are among the items most commonly found on beaches, representing some 50% of the marine litter. Understanding and knowledge of the problem has been substantially enhanced in the past few years, with several studies shedding light on the amounts, distribution, sources and impacts. The root causes of litter are a complex combination of production and consumption patterns, irresponsible behaviour of individuals and economic sectors, lack of policy and legislative frameworks, weak solid waste management practices, misconceptions related to possible solutions, fragmented understanding of the problem due to the lack of fit-for-purpose data.  

As a result, serious efforts need to decide on measures to curb the use of single use plastics and mainly plastic bags. 

Mao Da (Shenzhen Zero Waste), on plastics:

I would like to make three observations on the plastic waste issue. 

First, in recent years the global plastic waste pollution has caught wide public attention in China. Different sectors particularly the government, recycling industry and environmental NGOs are making great efforts together to address the problem. With that regard, meaningful actions initiated by the Convention will also nurture our domestic achievement.

Secondly, the Norway proposal should be welcomed and positively discussed at COP14. Considering the differentiated capacity of different countries on controlling waste import and for the need to improve effectiveness of existing national regulations, it is necessary to collectively build higher fences to restrict the global plastic waste traffic.

Lastly, a holistic and lifecycle approach to address plastic pollution should be adopted. For example, when alternative material is necessary in some cases, minimization of any single-use plastic consumption and waste generation is the priority. For another, in order not to jeopardize recycling process, stricter limits need to be set for the levels of toxic chemicals in plastics.

Tripti Arora (Toxics Link and IPEN), on microplastics:

I wish to express our view on the issue of Microplastics. They are used as raw materials in a number of products and but are also produced from degradation of plastic products, even certain bio-degradable plastics. They persist in marine and freshwater environments for years, can be found almost everywhere on earth, (including bottled drinking water) can pass through wastewater sewage treatment plants as well as municipal filtration systems, ingested by aquatic species and bio-accumulate and can adsorb persistent organic pollutants. 

It is being used in many products such as Cosmetics, Paints, Ink, Detergents, construction material. 

60-90% of marine litter is plastic based. Studies have found that 63000 microplastic particles float on average in every square kilometer of the world’s oceans. According to a study conducted by Toxics Link in India, 28% of all the tested cosmetic products such as face wash, face scrubs and skin creams contains microplastics.

Some countries such as US, Canada, EU, UK already has certain regulations addressing only microbeads. 

However, it is important for this issue to be address at the global level looking at its implications to our oceans. 

Ziyad Al-Alawneh (LHAP), on Nanotechnology:

I am speaking on behalf of LHAP, a national Jordanian NGO closely working with the Ministry of Environment on the chemical conventions and emerging issues of SAICM among of which are Nano materials where little work has been done at the level of my country in both the civil society and the government of Jordan.

The lack of fund and absence of national interest due to the lack of information and knowledge affected by the lack of international community support is the reason behind the lack of public and government interest in the issue. 

The Ministry of Environment in Jordan had a small project but achieved big impact during which it had included for the first time a chapter on Nano material in its National Chemical Profile. In addition, it has established guiding framework that would support Jordan to produce its Nano national legislation. But in the absence of community awareness and public interest due to the lack of information which a basic right to know, then little will continue to be known by the public at large and consumers about Nano materials. 

I am calling upon this meeting as well to encourage countries among of which is mine, Jordan, to consider Nano material as a national priority and thus include on the national agenda. In addition to make a clear link between this issue and the SDGs, apart from the fact of encouraging countries to conduct periodic review for the status of Nano. 

Ram Charitra Sah (CEPHED), on Chrysotile Asbestos:

Nepal is the first country in South Asia that banned the Import, Sale, Distribution and Uses of all forms of Asbestos in 2014 except lining of brake shoe and clutch plates. As a Sovereign and Independent Country Nepal took a very progressive decision to protect public health and environment from this serious carcinogenic substance to ensure its public`s fundamental right to live in a healthy environment enshrined by the Constitution of Nepal 2015. 

However, despite the ban, we found some Asbestos and Asbestos containing products still being exported to Nepal because we are not able to fully regulate the import due to lack of adequate testing infrastructures, Hence, it is important that the ban decision of Nepal should be respected by all other country, especially by the neighbouring countries and they should stop sending Asbestos and Asbestos containing products to Nepal. 

It is also important that Chrysotile Asbestos should be listed in Annex III of the Convention to enhance PIC process in upcoming COP.

Finally, technical assistance is required to regulate the import, prevention of exposure from existing uses and ensure the sound management of asbestos containing waste. This will be highly appreciated.

Ziyad Al-Alawneh (LHAP), on Low POPs content:

The Stockholm Convention aims to reduce or eliminate all releases of POPs and includes measures to reduce or eliminate release from stockpiles and wastes in Article 6. This includes the establishment of “Low POPs Content Levels” which are crucial tool to control potential releases of POPs due to improper handling of POPs wastes. Low POPs content levels (LPCLs) define the value at which waste are considered to be POPs waste and therefore must be disposed of in such a way that Persistent Organic Content is destroyed or irreversibly transformed (Article 6). LPCLs are crucial for defining appropriate methods and options for POPs waste disposal.