Guidance on environmentally sound management (ESM)
A. General considerations
ESM is a broad policy concept without a clear universal definition at the current time. However, provisions pertaining to ESM as it applies to wastes consisting of, containing or contaminated with POPs (and, more broadly, to hazardous wastes) within the Basel and Stockholm conventions, and also the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) core performance elements (discussed in the next three subsections), provide international direction that is also supportive of ESM efforts under way in various countries and among industrial sectors.
1. Basel Convention
In its Article 2, paragraph 8, the Basel Convention defines ESM of hazardous wastes or other wastes as “taking all practicable steps to ensure that hazardous wastes or other wastes are managed in a manner which will protect human health and the environment against adverse effects which may result from such wastes”.
In Article 4, paragraph 2 (b), the Convention requires each Party to take the appropriate measures to “ensure the availability of adequate disposal facilities for the environmentally sound management of hazardous or other wastes, that shall be located, to the extent possible, within it, whatever the place of their disposal”, while in paragraph 2 (c) it requires each Party to “ensure that persons involved in the management of hazardous wastes or other wastes within it take such steps as are necessary to prevent pollution due to hazardous wastes and other wastes arising from such management and, if such pollution occurs, to minimize the consequences thereof for human health and the environment”.
In Article 4, paragraph 8, the Convention requires that “hazardous wastes or other wastes, to be exported, are managed in an environmentally sound manner in the State of import or elsewhere. Technical guidelines for the environmentally sound management of wastes subject to this Convention shall be decided by the Parties at their first meeting”. The present technical guidelines and the specific technical guidelines are intended to provide a more precise definition of ESM in the context of wastes consisting of, containing or contaminated with POPs, including appropriate treatment and disposal methods for these waste streams.
Several key principles with respect to ESM of waste were articulated in the 1994 Framework Document on Preparation of Technical Guidelines for the Environmentally Sound Management of Wastes Subject to the Basel Convention.15
To achieve ESM of wastes, the Framework Document recommends that a number of legal, institutional and technical conditions (ESM criteria) be met, in particular that:
(a) A regulatory and enforcement infrastructure ensures compliance with applicable regulations;
(b) Sites or facilities are authorized and of an adequate standard of technology and pollution control to deal with hazardous wastes in the way proposed, in particular taking into account the level of technology and pollution control in the exporting country;
(c) Operators of sites or facilities at which hazardous wastes are managed are required, as appropriate, to monitor the effects of those activities;
(d) Appropriate action is taken in cases where monitoring gives indications that the management of hazardous wastes has resulted in unacceptable releases; and
(e) People involved in the management of hazardous wastes are capable and adequately trained in their capacity.
ESM is also the subject of the 1999 Basel Declaration on Environmentally Sound Management, adopted at the fifth meeting of the Conference of Parties to the Basel Convention. The Declaration calls on the Parties to enhance and strengthen their efforts and cooperation to achieve ESM, including through prevention, minimization, recycling, recovery and disposal of hazardous and other wastes subject to the Basel Convention, taking into account social, technological and economic concerns; and through further reduction of transboundary movements of hazardous and other wastes subject to the Basel Convention.
The Declaration states that a number of activities should be carried out in this context, including:
(a) Identification and quantification of the types of waste being produced nationally;
(b) Best practice approach to avoid or minimize the generation of hazardous wastes and reduce their toxicity, such as the use of cleaner production methods or approaches; and
(c) Provision of sites or facilities authorized as environmentally sound to manage wastes and, in particular, hazardous wastes.
2. Stockholm Convention
The term “environmentally sound management” is not defined in the Stockholm Convention. Environmentally sound methods for disposal of wastes consisting of, containing or contaminated with POPs are, however, to be determined by the Conference of Parties in cooperation with the appropriate bodies of the Basel Convention.16
3. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
OECD has adopted a recommendation on ESM of wastes which includes various items, inter alia core performance elements of ESM guidelines applying to waste recovery facilities, including elements of performance that precede collection, transport, treatment and storage and also elements subsequent to storage, transport, treatment and disposal of pertinent residues.17
The core performance elements are:
(a) That the facility should have an applicable environmental management system (EMS) in place;
(b) That the facility should take sufficient measures to safeguard occupational and environmental health and safety;
(c) That the facility should have an adequate monitoring, recording and reporting programme;
(d) That the facility should have an appropriate and adequate training programme for its personnel;
(e) That the facility should have an adequate emergency plan; and
(f) That the facility should have an adequate plan for closure and after-care.
B. Legislative and regulatory framework
Parties to the Basel and Stockholm conventions should examine national controls, standards and procedures to ensure that they are in agreement with the conventions and with their obligations under them, including those which pertain to ESM of wastes consisting of, containing or contaminated with POPs.
Most countries already have in place some form of legislation that outlines broad environmental protection principles, powers and rights. Ideally, countries’ environmental legislation should include requirements for protection of both human health and the environment. Such enabling legislation can give governments the power to enact specific rules and regulations, inspect and enforce, and establish penalties for violations.
Such legislation on hazardous wastes should also define hazardous wastes. Wastes consisting of, containing or contaminated with POPs above the low POP contents referred to in section III.A should be included in the definition. The legislation could define ESM and require adherence to ESM principles, ensuring that countries satisfy provisions for ESM of wastes consisting of, containing or contaminated with POPs, including their environmentally sound disposal as described in the present guidelines and the Stockholm Convention. Specific components or features of a regulatory framework that would meet the requirements of the Basel and Stockholm conventions and other international agreements are discussed below.18
1. Phase-out dates for production and use of POPs
A link should be established in legislation between the phase-out date for production and use19 of a POP substance (including in products and articles) and the disposal of the POP once it has become a waste. This should include a time limit for disposal of the waste consisting of, containing or contaminated with POPs, so as to prevent massive stockpiles from being created that have no clear phase-out date.
2. Transboundary movement requirements20
Hazardous wastes and other wastes should, as far as is compatible with their ESM, be disposed of in the country where they were generated. Transboundary movements of such wastes are permitted only under the following conditions:
(a) If conducted under conditions that do not endanger human health and the environment;
(b) If exports are managed in an environmentally sound manner in the country of import or elsewhere;
(c) If the country of export does not have the technical capacity and the necessary facilities to dispose of the wastes in question in an environmentally sound and efficient manner;
(d) If the wastes in question are required as a raw material for recycling or recovery industries in the country of import; or
(e) If the transboundary movements in question are in accordance with other criteria decided by the Parties.
Any transboundary movements of hazardous and other wastes are subject to prior written notification from the exporting country and prior written consent from the importing and, if appropriate, transit countries. Parties shall prohibit the export of hazardous wastes and other wastes if the country of import prohibits the import of such wastes. The Basel Convention also requires that information regarding any proposed transboundary movement is provided using the accepted notification form and that the approved consignment is accompanied by a movement document from the point where the transboundary movement commences to the point of disposal.
Furthermore, hazardous wastes and other wastes subject to transboundary movements should be packaged, labelled and transported in conformity with international rules and standards.21
When transboundary movement of hazardous and other wastes to which consent of the countries concerned has been given cannot be completed, the country of export shall ensure that the wastes in question are taken back into the country of export for their disposal if alternative arrangements cannot be made. In the case of illegal traffic (as defined in Article 9, paragraph 1), the country of export shall ensure that the wastes in question are taken back into the country of export for their disposal or disposed of in accordance with the provisions of the Basel Convention.
No transboundary movements of hazardous wastes and other wastes are permitted between a Party and a non-Party to the Basel Convention unless a bilateral, multilateral or regional arrangement exists as required under Article 11 of the Basel Convention.
3. Specifications for containers, equipment, bulk containers and storage sites containing POPs
To meet the requirements of ESM and specific clauses in the Basel and Stockholm conventions (for example, Basel Convention Article 4, paragraph 7, and Stockholm Convention article 6, paragraph 1), Parties may need to enact specific legislation that describes the types of containers and storage areas that are acceptable for particular POPs.22 Parties should ensure that containers that may be transported to another country meet international standards such as those established by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
4. Health and safety23
Neither the Basel nor the Stockholm convention specifically requires Parties to have worker health and safety legislation. A legislative approach should be taken, however, to protect workers from possible exposure to POPs. These provisions should include requirements for the proper labelling of products and the identification of appropriate disposal methods.
Most countries have existing worker health and safety provisions either in general labour legislation or in specialized human health or environmental legislation. Parties should re-examine their existing legislation to ensure that POPs are adequately addressed and that relevant aspects of international agreements are integrated. Worker health and safety is a relatively mature field and a great deal of guidance and literature is available to assist in the planning and revision of legislation, policy and technical guidance.
In its article 10 (“Public information, awareness and education”), paragraph 1 (e), the Stockholm Convention calls upon Parties to promote and facilitate training for workers, scientists, educators and technical and managerial personnel. National health and safety legislation should include provisions for the safe handling and storage of wastes consisting of, containing or contaminated with POPs.
5. Specification of acceptable analytical and sampling methods for POPs
Many different sampling and analytical methods have been developed for a variety of purposes. Reliable and useful data can be generated only when sampling and analytical methods appropriate to the waste are used. All Parties to the Basel and Stockholm conventions should have legislation or strong policy guidelines identifying the acceptable sampling and analytical methods for each POP waste, including the form in which it occurs and the matrix. The procedures specified should be accepted internationally. This should ensure that the reported results are comparable. See section E of this chapter for further detail.
6. Requirements for hazardous waste treatment and disposal facilities
Most countries have legislation that requires waste treatment and disposal facilities to obtain some form of approval to commence operations. Approvals can outline specific conditions which must be maintained in order for approval to remain valid. It may be necessary to add requirements specific to wastes consisting of, containing or contaminated with POPs to meet the requirements of ESM and to comply with specific requirements of the Basel and Stockholm conventions.
7. General requirement for public participation
Public participation is a core principle of the Basel Declaration on Environmentally Sound Management and many other international agreements. Public participation as referred to in section IV.K below may be addressed in legislation or policy.
8. Contaminated sites
Provisions enabling the development of an inventory of contaminated sites and remediation of sites in an environmentally sound manner (article 6, paragraph 1 (e), of the Stockholm Convention) may be specified in legislation.
9. Other legislative controls
Examples of other aspects of life-cycle management of wastes consisting of, containing or contaminated with POPs that could be required through legislation include:
(a) Siting provisions and requirements relative to the storage, handling, collection and transport of wastes;
(b) Decommissioning requirements including:
(i) Inspection prior to and during decommissioning;
(ii) Procedures to be followed to protect worker and community health and the environment during decommissioning;
(iii) Post-decommissioning site requirements;
(c) Emergency contingency planning, spill and accident response, including:
(i) Cleanup procedures and post-cleanup concentrations to be achieved;
(ii) Worker training and safety requirements;
(d) Waste prevention, minimization and management plans.
C. Waste prevention and minimization
The prevention and minimization of wastes consisting of, containing or contaminated with POPs are the first and most important steps in the overall ESM of such wastes. In its Article 4, paragraph 2, the Basel Convention calls on Parties to “ensure that the generation of hazardous wastes and other wastes … is reduced to a minimum”.
Elements of a waste prevention and minimization programme include the following:
(a) Identification of processes unintentionally producing POPs and determination of whether Stockholm Convention guidelines on BAT and BEP are applicable;
(b) Identification of processes that use POPs and generate wastes consisting of, containing or contaminated with POPs:
(i) To determine whether process modifications, including updating older equipment, could reduce waste generation;
(ii) To identify alternative processes that are not linked to the production of wastes consisting of, containing or contaminated with POPs;
(c) Identification of products and articles consisting of, containing or contaminated with POPs and non-POP alternatives;
(d) Minimization of the volume of waste generated:
(i) By regular maintenance of equipment to increase efficiency and prevent spills and leaks;
(ii) By prompt containment of spills and leaks;
(iii) By decontamination of containers and equipment containing wastes consisting of, containing or contaminated with POPs;
(iv) By isolation of wastes consisting of, containing or contaminated with POPs in order to prevent contamination of other materials.
Generators of wastes and significant downstream industrial users (e.g., pesticide formulators) of products and articles containing POPs could be required to develop waste management plans. Such plans should cover all hazardous wastes, with wastes consisting of, containing or contaminated with POPs wastes treated as one component.
Mixing of wastes with POP contents above a defined low POP content with other materials solely for the purpose of generating a mixture with a POP content below the defined low POP content is not environmentally sound. Nevertheless, mixing of materials prior to waste treatment may be necessary in order to optimize treatment efficiencies.
D. Identification and inventories
In paragraph 1 of article 6, the Stockholm Convention requires:
(a) Identification of stockpiles consisting of or containing chemicals listed in Annex A or Annex B; and
(b) Development of appropriate strategies for the identification of products and articles in use and wastes consisting of, containing or contaminated with POPs.
Wastes consisting of, containing or contaminated with POPs occur as solids and liquids (aqueous, semi-aqueous, solvent-based and emulsions) and can be released as gases (actual gases, as a liquid dispersion or aerosols, or adsorbed onto atmospheric pollutants).
Wastes consisting of, containing or contaminated with POPs are mostly generated as a result of human activities, for example:
(a) During their intentional manufacture;
(b) As by-products of industrial and other processes;
(c) Through contamination of materials or the environment as a result of accidents or leakage that may occur during production, sales, use, decommissioning, removal or transfer;
(d) Through contamination of materials during handling and use of products and articles such as containers, clothing and in some cases equipment (respirators, etc.) that have been contaminated through contact with a pesticide product;
(e) When products or articles contaminated with POPs become off-specification, are unfit for the original use or are discarded;
(f) When products have been banned or when registrations for such products have been withdrawn.
Critical aspects of waste identification require knowledge of products or articles consisting of, containing or contaminated with POPs, including manufacturers, trade names and synonyms, when they were manufactured, how they were used and who used them. The list of source categories provided in annex C to the Stockholm Convention should assist industrial managers and government regulators, and also the general public, in identifying wastes consisting of, containing or contaminated with unintentionally produced POPs.
National implementation plans under the Stockholm Convention will include a national inventory. For the purpose of the environmentally sound management of wastes, a more specific and complete inventory may be needed. This will normally involve an iterative process. The following paragraphs provide more detailed guidance.
Inventories are an important tool for identifying, quantifying and characterizing wastes. National inventories may be used:
(a) To establish a baseline quantity of products, articles and wastes consisting of, containing or contaminated with POPs;
(b) To establish an information registry to assist with safety and regulatory inspections;
(c) To obtain the accurate information needed to draw up plans for site stabilization;
(d) To assist with the preparation of emergency response plans;
(e) To track progress towards minimizing and phasing out POPs.
When developing an inventory, priority should be given to the identification of wastes with high POP concentrations.
An inventory should, as appropriate, include data on:
(a) Production of POPs within the country;
(b) Import/export of products and articles consisting of or containing POPs;
(c) Disposal of waste consisting of, containing or contaminated with POPs;
(d) Import/export of such waste.
The development of a national POPs inventory requires cooperation by the relevant authority with producers, users, transporters, customs offices, waste disposal facilities and the national focal points for the Basel Convention and for the Stockholm Convention. It requires also a long-term commitment by the national government, cooperation from owners and manufacturers of POPs, a sound administrative process for collecting information on an ongoing basis and a computerized database system for storage of information. In some cases, government regulations may be required to ensure that owners report their holdings and cooperate with government inspectors.
The first issue to consider in developing an inventory is the types of industries and locations which may have been using POPs. This should help provide a sense of the magnitude of the inventory effort and can help to develop a preliminary list of possible owners. If POPs have been produced in or imported into the country, the industries involved should also be part of the initial consultations. These companies may be able to give estimates or even exact figures of the amount of these products that were used in domestic applications. These estimates can be very valuable in determining how much of a chemical has been accounted for by an inventory. Unfortunately, in some cases these records may no longer exist.
There are five basic steps in the development of an inventory, as set forth below.