Intervention COP14
May 4 2019
BAN Intervention on the Technical Guideline on Electronic Waste
Thank you distinguished Chair. It is with great regret that BAN is forced to repeat our warning that the Technical Guideline on e-Waste, has departed radically from the purpose of the Guideline and the Convention itself -- to protect human health and the environment, in particular in developing countries from electronic waste. This is due to the unacceptably dangerous "repairable claims loophole" found in paragraph 31(b).
This guideline, damaged as it is with the 31(b) loophole allows any trader to make a claim that they are exporting e-waste for repair, and by so doing, their exports no matter how large, or how toxic, or how unrepairable, can be considered as non-waste and therefore not subject to any of the obligations of the Convention including prior informed consent, ESM, or any state to state controls guaranteed under the Basel Convention.

Yet we know that any whole scrap equipment can be called repairable and certainly that word will be used as the password for all manner of nefarious trade, at a time when control of e-waste trade is more vital than ever.   They can make the claim of repairable even when there is no intent to repair it at all, but simply be an intent get rid of it. And, we know that if there is actual intent to repair equipment, much of what arrives for repair is in fact non-repairable hazardous waste.

Heretofore this would all be considered hazardous waste, but now, by the imposition of the repairables loophole in the Guideline, Parties are actually being encouraged to abandon all control. Those countries that believed that by being a Basel Party they would at least be notified of incoming e-waste will no longer be thus protected. Those Parties that have agreed to the Ban Amendment and have never agreed that the e-waste they considered to be banned from trade would now be suddenly allowed via an obscure new guideline paragraph. Paragraph 31(b). This is unacceptable to the 95 Parties that have ratified the Ban Amendment.

The experience of Thailand and Malaysia faced last year with e-Waste flooding their country will now be made far worse, for this time the waste tsunami witnessed moving from one country to the next, will be sanctioned by a guideline and perfectly admissible as long as one invokes the word "repair".
Is this body really prepared to set the clock back on the progress we have made on e-waste and greatly exacerbate the abuses of the last decade? We hope not.
There is another way forward. Last week BAN published -- a safe and ethical approach to the issue of repair -- an alternative guideline entitled The Responsible Guideline on Transboundary Movements of Used Electronic Equipment to Promote an Ethical Circular Economy under the Basel Convention.
This guideline is drawn from the experience of two decades of BAN's close observation of the international e-waste trade and more than a decade of Basel e-waste guideline negotiations here. In it you will find a carefully crafted compromise for exports for repair, allowing electronic manufacturers to move their non-functional equipment as non-waste to legitimate safe, repair operations while giving back a country's legal right to know what comes to their territory, the legal right to consent or refuse what comes to their territories, and ensuring that the import does not violate the intent and purpose of the Ban Amendment.

So far, the Responsible Guideline has been endorsed by 3 governments, 53 NGOs and 12 businesses or business associations. We invite you to visit our BAN website or this meeting's intranet, download the document, and endorse it on the BAN website if you appreciate the wisdom of it.  
Distinguished delegates, the circular economy cannot function with negative externalities and leakage. The Basel Convention's, obligations and principles are the essential guard rails for the circular economy. We must never consider removing these guardrails and certainly we must never do this in the name of a circular economy. We call on the Parties to not finally adopt the Current Interim Guideline as there will not be adequate time to reform it here. Rather, we should call a time out to consider new approaches to the issue of exports for repair that remains faithful to the Convention.    
Thank you.
Jim Puckett,
Executive Director,
Basel Action Network