Misguided shot

Misguided shot india has again shown its willingness to be led by the West to commit euthanasia. It has adopted the draft technical guidelines for managing plastic waste prepared by the technical working group of the Basel Convention on January 14-15, 2002, in Geneva. About 100 countries, all signatories to the Basel Convention have adopted the guidelines.

The ‘Draft Technical Guidelines for the Identification and Environmentally Sound Management of Plastic Wastes and for their Disposal’ will now set the mandate for the 6th Conference of the Parties (CoP-6) to the Basel Convention scheduled to be held in December 2002 at Geneva. The Basel Convention on the control of the Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal came into being in March 1989 after a series of notorious ‘toxic cargoes’ from developed countries drew public attention to the dumping of hazardous waste in developing and East European countries. The Convention regulates the movement of these wastes and obliges its members to ensure that such wastes are managed and disposed of in an environmentally sound manner.

The technical guidelines on plastics adopted by the convention’s nineteenth technical working group (which are set up to draw up the agenda prior to the CoPs) aims to provide technological advice on how to handle safely, compact, store and transport plastic waste. It suggests what are the preferred technological options for environmentally sound recycling, recovery and final disposal of plastic waste.

But experts say the guidelines are too wishy-washy to help tackle the menace of plastic waste, especially in the South. The principal beneficiary of the draft guidelines, claim non-governmental organisations from the South, will be either the North or the mammoth plastic industry. Meant to provide understanding and providing management advice on the technical aspects of plastic waste, including recycling, the environmental and health impact of plastic waste has not remained central to the draft believe many.
The guidelines The guidelines lay stress on recycling of plastic waste and suggest energy recovery from the processes. According to the guidelines, research and practice developed over the last decade has indicated that under strict operating conditions, plastic waste, even if rich in poly vinyl chloride (pvc), can be incinerated safely and effectively. Sustained high temperature combustion recovers maximum energy from the fuel and ensures complete breakdown of toxic organic compounds. Landfills are the least preferred solution for plastic waste disposal. The guidelines also stress that the Stockholm Convention for Persistent Organic Pollutants (pops) must be kept in mind and pops from incineration operations be prevented.
Off mark Experts and civil society representatives from the South have grave doubts over the efficacy of the guidelines. They believe that the guidelines are drafted on the basis of experiences in the developed countries and do not look into the problems of the developing countries. “The guidelines favour the plastic industry,” says Ravi Agarwal, coordinator of Srishti, a Delhi-based non-governmental organisation (ngo), which was active in Geneva during the deliberations.

Adopting such guidelines will not help manage the over 100 million tonnes global annual consumption of plastics, believe experts, or ensure safe management of half of this plastic which each year ends up as waste. In fact some of the solutions the draft does suggests, put mildly, are controversial to the core.

Take the case of pvc . “The guidelines claim all plastic waste can be managed and make no distinction between the ecologically damaging pvc and other kinds of plastic waste,” says Agarwal. Burning pvc is known to generate dioxins

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