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Basel Convention

( Article Type: Explanation )

The Basel Convention or the 'Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal' is a United Nations Convention administered by a secretariat based in Geneva, Switzerland. The convention was first signed in May 1992 and South Africa became a signatory to the Convention in May 1994. The main objectives of the Convention are to encourage the reduction of production of hazardous waste and to minimise the movement of such waste between countries. It also seeks to encourage the disposal of hazardous waste in an environmentally safe and responsible way. The convention requires that certain classified hazardous wastes may only be moved between signatory countries under cover of a permit. There have been various discussions regarding the classification of substances. Some industries, for example the metal recycling industry, have had problems with the manner in which their recyclable products have been classified. The underlying value of a convention such as this is that it encourages companies and countries to look at ways and means of reducing the production of hazardous waste at source. South African legislation is moving more towards compliance with the Convention and the White Paper on Integrated Pollution and Waste Management for South Africa includes specific provisions for new legislation, which will align South African waste management practice to the Basel Convention.