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b a n

asel ction etwork
turn back the toxic tide
A Program of Earth Economics 122 S. Jackson St., Suite 320 Seattle, Washington 98104 Telephone 206 652-5555 Web: www.ban.org

Tuesday, October 7, 2008 Competent Authority of Malaysia for Basel Convention Ms. Siti Zaleha Ibrahim Principal Assistant Director Department of Environment Level 2, Block 4G3, Precinct 4, Federal Podium Government Administrative Centre 62574 Putrajaya Malaysia Tel: (+60 3) 8871 21 34 Dear Ms. Siti Zaleha Ibrahim: I hope this letter finds you in good health and spirits. As you know, the Basel Action Network is a civil society organization concerned with supporting compliance with the Basel Convention and the Basel Ban Amendment and generally preventing toxic trade. We are happy to note that Malaysia, one of the first Asian countries to ratify the Basel Ban Amendment, has an excellent history of working actively with the global community and nationally to prevent global dumping of toxic waste. Today we write about the subject of electronic waste trade from the United States to Malaysia and in particular in regards to cathode ray tube glass which is listed in the Basel Convention as A2010: Glass waste from cathode ray tubes and other activated glass, that is finding its way to Malaysia’s Samsung Corning Sdn. Bhd. factory for CRT manufacture in Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia and perhaps other locations. We are aware that Malaysia has been granting official permissions for importation of cathode ray tube waste glass from the United States to Samsung. We have also heard about whole tubes being imported to another Party in Malaysia that processes these tubes, before sending to Samsung. All of these imports raise serious questions that need to be resolved with respect to Malaysia’s obligations under the Basel Convention. Mr. Richard Gutierrez of our Asia / Pacific office of BAN recently discussed with you in Bangkok, the situation regarding this CRT waste. It was his understanding that Samsung Corning was allowed a temporary permit to import such waste despite a national ban on hazardous waste importation in general. This temporary permit was due to expire in 2010.

While such consent can be granted from the national laws of Malaysia for Basel Parties around the world, and that is Malaysia’s right to grant such exceptions to the national ban, it is not likewise possible to do this for a non-Party such as the United States as such trade is not in compliance with Basel rules. As you are no doubt aware, the Basel Convention in Article 4, Paragraph 5, stipulates that: A Party shall not permit hazardous wastes or other wastes to be exported to a non-Party or to be imported from a non-Party. Thus any imports of a Basel listed hazardous or other waste must not be imported from the United States (a non-party) to Malaysia. To import such material does in fact constitute illegal traffic and is a criminal offence under the Convention. In this case we see that Malaysia is permitting such imports, which appears constitutes non-compliance with the Convention. This is a matter, which if left unaddressed; we should all take most seriously. BAN wishes to work with Malaysia to set this right if indeed a mistake is being made. In this regard, we stand ready to work with Malaysia should it wish to explore legal ways to import such material for glass to glass CRT recycling. There are two legal avenues for exploration, one of which we could agree to support and one we could not support. First, there is the possible use of an Article 11 bilateral agreement to import waste from the United States. BAN would strongly recommend not pursuing this route as a precedent of utilizing Article 11 to circumvent the Basel Ban Amendment is legally questionable and certainly highly contentious. Any bilateral agreement to be signed between an OECD country and a non-OECD country that sees hazardous waste flowing toward the non-OECD country would be a very dangerous precedent and one which we would oppose strongly. However, BAN believes that properly prepared and cleaned CRT glass cullet could logically and safely be de-listed from Annex VIII and moved to Annex IX of the Convention. We could see this as a way forward if the cullet was first cleaned of all phosphor, silica and other dusts to prevent occupational exposure and generation of residual hazardous waste from harmful dusts, is properly packaged and only receives quality control treatment (e.g. to remove metal bits and other impurities) prior to going directly into the glass furnaces as a feed stock. In such case, it will not contain dispersible hazardous constituents and as it will not be going directly to further recycling processing but will be directly fed as a raw material into a primary production unit, we could support a listing in Annex IX. Such a listing could read: B2010 Crushed glass or cullet from leaded cathode ray tube glass, cleaned of all phosphor and silica and lead dust and destined for glass to glass manufacturing with no further processing required other than quality control (ie. removal of impurities other than phosphor and dust). BAN stands ready to support this amendment to the Convention if Malaysia would submit this. We believe other countries experienced in amendments to the annexes, such as Germany would also be supportive in this process. In this way, properly prepared and cleaned CRT cullet can be considered as a non-waste or a non-hazardous waste and therefore can be imported from any country in the world regardless of whether or not they are Parties of the Basel Convention. This would be a way to become compliant with the Basel Convention.

BAN views this matter as one of urgency. Vast amounts of CRT glass, much of it completely uncleaned, and even whole CRT tubes are currently on their way each month to Malaysia from the US on container ships. This importation appears to be illegal with respect to the Basel convention obligations We therefore strongly recommend the following course of action: 1. Imports of CRT glass from the United States (a non-Party) cease at once unless Malaysia ensures that such waste is cleaned of all dispersible hazardous material (dusts and phosphors) and that the material will go directly for processing in a primary glass furnace as a feedstock and Malaysian legal experts can agree that this can be considered a nonwaste not subject to the Basel Convention despite the B2010 listing. 2. Malaysia work immediately with other Basel Parties (e.g. Germany) to propose an amendment to the Annexes of the Convention along the lines we have suggested above. This amendment is absolutely necessary to provide global clarity and a level playing field with respect to this waste stream. In this way, we can preserve glass to glass recycling to manage society’s transition from CRT technology in a sustainable way and we can also maintain compliance with international law. Currently however, Malaysia has not required the pre-cleaning of dispersible hazardous silica and phosphor dust and it is unclear if Malaysian legal experts consider the material going to Samsung as a non-waste. It is my hope that you will copy this letter to any persons within the Malaysian government that are currently part of the proceedings that has led to consent being given to such imports from the United States. These persons need to know that such importation is currently likely to be illegal. We hope that Malaysia can move quickly to undertake the steps proposed in this letter. In BAN we are bound by our charter to denounce and work to prevent non-compliance in the strongest way we can. However we also wish to work with countries to achieve compliance, particularly with countries that clearly believe in doing the right thing -- as Malaysia has demonstrated many times in the past. Thank you very much in advance for your considered response. Sincerely yours,

Jim Puckett, Coordinator Basel Action Network

cc.

(please forward) Dr. AB. Rahman Bin Awang, Office of Director General of Environmental Quality Hon. Mdm. Maznah Mazlan, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment