A few weeks after the entry into force of the Minamata Convention on Mercury (16 August 2017), the first meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP1) took place from 24 to 29 September 2017 in Geneva, Switzerland.
The Convention, whose Secretariat is now officially based in Geneva, aims at “protecting the human health and the environment from anthropogenic emissions and releases of mercury and mercury compound”.
Mercury, which is still commonly used in various fields, is recognized as a substance producing significant adverse effects, making it essential to be adequately treated and disposed of in a sustainable manner. HWE, whose members brought their expertise to the work of the Convention, pays tribute to the entry in to force of the Convention and attended this important event.
For HWE, the Convention shall ensure:
- the phase out of the use of mercury with a pragmatic but safe framework for the few remaining allowed uses,
- the ultimate goal is the stabilization of mercury considered as a waste through high tech process that will ensure a safe permanent storage,
- the full traceability of mercury waste from the producer to the final destination,
- clear definitions of what is a “waste contaminated by mercury”, “waste containing mercury”, or “mercury compounds”, where specific requirements due to this contamination shall apply
- the very strict monitoring of mercury emissions to air from the relevant sources (coal power plants, non-ferrous metal production, cement kilns and incineration) through continuous measurement; similar requirements should also apply for water emissions
At the EU level, the adopted regulation on mercury (May 2017) enabled the EU to ratify the Convention.