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Global waste meeting fails to break impasse: delegate

by Staff Writers
Nusa Dua, Indonesia (AFP) June 28, 2008
A conference in Indonesia on the international waste trade ended without breaking a 14-year impasse over the sale of hazardous waste across borders, the host's delegate said Saturday.

The five-day conference on the resort island of Bali ended late Friday with a coalition of countries again stalling the ban proposal, Agus Purnomo said.

"The problem is we have almost a dozen countries who are definitely against the ban amendment and they will not make a ban legal," Purnomo said.

Rich countries such as the United States and Japan have opposed amending the Basel Convention, which governs the international movement of waste, to produce the ban.

So far only 62 of the necessary 130 countries have ratified the proposed amendment, Purnomo said.

Despite little movement over the ban issue, conference delegates declared they had agreed to "contribute to a new momentum to achieve objectives (of the Basel Convention)."

Purnomo said the declaration was a breakthrough as it set the basis for countries to tackle the waste trade voluntarily through capacity building and recylcing programmes.

"This was the re-energising consensus that we were able to achieve in Bali," he said.

The issue of hazardous waste has taken on renewed urgency with the explosion in the number of mobile phones and computers, which has created new mountains of rubbish.

There are now three billion mobile phones in the world, conference organisers said.

Environmental activists have argued that tackling the emerging e-waste crisis is impossible without a ban, with countries regularly slipping past the current Basel architecture.

"The US routinely allows massive exports of toxic e-waste to countries it knows prohibit such importation," Jim Puckett from the US-based Basel Action Network said in a statement earlier in the week.

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