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UN/CEFACT: Protecting Human Health and the Environment through Electronic Data Exchange

Hazardous wastes contain chemicals, heavy metals, dangerous pathogens, or other substances of concern that make them, inter alia, explosive, flammable, infectious or toxic. The movement of such wastes pose serious risks to human health and the environment.

The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal (Basel Convention) is the international treaty aimed at reducing hazardous waste generation and restricting the movement of such waste across borders, particularly from developed to less developed countries. It also puts in place a regulatory system for permissible transboundary movements of hazardous wastes.

The United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT) has developed technical specifications to support data exchange on the transboundary movement of waste. This standard facilitates information exchanges between competent authorities, exporters and importers of waste, as well as recovery or disposal facilities in accordance with Article 6 of the Basel Convention, including:

·         Notification of planned/proposed transboundary movements of waste;

·         Competent authorities’ request for additional information;

·         Competent authorities’ response to notifications, such as consent or objections;

·         Movement document;

·         Confirmation of the receipt of waste; and

·         Confirmation of the disposal or recovery of waste.

The deliverables from this UN/CEFACT project are already in use as the basis for electronic data interchange implementation, including in the European Data Interchange for Waste Notification Systems (EUDIN) in Austria, Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Slovenia and Switzerland, and the Nordic TransFrontier Shipments of waste (Nordic TFS).

Recently, the Implementation and Compliance Committee of the Basel Convention was mandated to improve the implementation of and compliance with Article 6 of the Convention. As part of this initiative, it is exploring approaches based on the exchange of electronic data to replace the documents used to control the transboundary movements of hazardous and other wastes. The UN/CEFACT standard has been presented to the Secretariat of the Convention and is being considered as a possible, already proven tool to support implementation and compliance.