June 10th, 2020
Swiss/Ghanaian e-Waste Proposal: Fails to Solve the Real e-Waste Problem
BAN has reviewed the recent proposal from Switzerland and Ghana to include non-hazardous e-waste on Annex II. While we appreciate any effort to improve controls on e-waste, we are sorry to report that, their proposal as it stands does not address the current e-waste crisis experienced in developing countries.  Further, it is also at odds with the intent and purpose of the Ban Amendment which has recently entered into force and is now part of the Convention.  
However, it is very important to note that the Swiss-Ghanaian proposal can be adjusted to actually do what is appropriate and close the e-waste control loophole most harmful to developing countries.  That loophole allows traders to export toxic broken electronic equipment as "non-waste" simply by claiming an intent to repair the equipment.  This is the infamous "Repairables Loophole" which is outlined in the Technical Guidelines on the Transboundary Movement of e-Waste in Paragraph 32(b). This loophole is very dangerous as any used equipment can be claimed to be repairable and thus a massive loophole is created allowing traders to freely trade this dangerous equipment outside of the Basel Convention's control procedures. 
This identified "Repairables Loophole" has so far prevented the interim Technical Guidelines from being finally adopted. Many countries do not agree with it as the loophole plagues developing countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia every single day.
Teenage workers in the Agbogbloshie slum burning e-waste exported to Accra, Ghana as "repairable" equipment without import controls. An IPEN/ARNIKA study released last year revealed the highest levels of brominated dioxins ever recorded in chicken eggs, consumed in this community. The Swiss-Ghanaian proposal as it stands, would not prevent such harmful imports. Copyright BAN.

They are not plagued by exporters claiming e-waste as "non-hazardous."  No, traders wishing to dump high-liability toxic, broken equipment on developing countries do not characterize that equipment as "non-hazardous" but rather, as "non-waste." Almost all e-waste is considered hazardous and to assert otherwise would involve expensive testing. Why would any trader go to the trouble to prove or claim non-hazardousness when it is far easier to simply claim that the electronic equipment is going to be repaired and therefore not a waste at all? Meanwhile, the issue that Swiss/Ghanaian proposal addresses -- non-hazardous e-waste is largely a non-issue. 
What is urgently needed instead, is an adjusted proposal to make the dangerous non-functional electronics subject to the Basel control procedures of prior informed consent. Why would we take steps to begin to control non-hazardous e-waste while allowing actual toxic waste to flow unabated under the guise of non-waste? 
BAN has prepared a paper, which includes a detailed assessment of this matter as well as a proposed amendment to the Swiss-Ghanaian -- to ensure that, in addition to that which is proposed, we add the broken problematic non-functional equipment as well. Click here to download this document. 

We thank you for your attention to this important matter.  If you agree with us, please let us know. Further, we urge that you work within your regions to propose the  amendment to the governments of Ghana and Switzerland to ensure that non-functional hazardous equipment in addition to non-hazardous e-wastes is added to Annex II and thus properly controlled under the Basel Convention as is the original intent of the Convention.

About Basel Action Network

Founded in 1997, the Basel Action Network is a 501(c)3 charitable organization of the United States, based in Seattle, WA. BAN is the world's only organization focused on confronting the global environmental justice and economic inefficiency of toxic trade and its devastating impacts. Today, BAN serves as the information clearinghouse on the subject of waste trade for journalists, academics, and the general public. Through its investigations, BAN uncovered the tragedy of hazardous electronic waste dumping in developing countries. For more information, see www.BAN.org.