What is the Basel Convention? | Global Ideas | DW | 23.04.2013
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Global Ideas

What is the Basel Convention?

How should we best dispose off toxic electrical waste? The Basel convention was put in place to help answer that question.

On May 22, 1989, international lawmakers meeting in Switerzerland signed a landmark treaty: the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal, which went into effect in 1992. The treaty aimed to reduce hazardous waste and improve its disposal.

In the 1970s- and 80s, there was a growing public awareness in the West about the hazards of electronic and other toxic waste, leading to campaigns to tackle the problem. More and more people started to resist plans for hazardous waste to be stored in landfills and disposal sites in their backyards. That made the entire process of waste disposal costlier and more tedious, spurring companies to look for new alternatives. Developing countries and the former Soviet bloc became an attractive waste destination for companies due to their lax environmental regulations.

But in the early 1980s, the practice of moving industrial waste to developing countries came under fire, paving the path for the Basel Convention.