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22 September 2017

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New treaty effectiveness will depend on adequacy of data to be collected, say NGOs  

Geneva, Switzerland

Prior to the start of the first Conference of Parties (COP1), the Zero Mercury Working Group (ZMWG) welcomed the entry into force of the Minamata Convention. 

“While there are alternatives to mercury, there are no alternatives to global cooperation,” said Michael Bender, international ZMWG coordinator. “We applaud the world’s governments for committing to curtail this dangerous neurotoxin.”

The First Conference of the Parties will take place from 24 to 29 September 2017 in Geneva, Switzerland.  Over 1,000 delegates and around 50 ministers are expected to assemble in Geneva to celebrate and lay the groundwork for the treaty’s overall effectiveness.
During the prior negotiations, the Intergovernmental Negotiation Committee (INC) approved many of the forms and guidance that the Convention specifies must be adopted at COP 1, which are needed for the swift and smooth launch and running of the Convention.  These include guidance documents on identifying stocks, determining best available technologies and reducing mercury use in small scale gold mining; as well as forms for trade procedures and for exemptions from certain deadlines.

“These INC approvals were achieved by consensus after considerable deliberations, and are ready for approval without further debate,” said Satish Sinha, Toxics Link India.

Among the most critical open issues to be discussed at COP1 are the reporting requirements, which will provide critical information on both the global mercury situation and the effectiveness of the Convention in achieving mercury reductions.   Particularly critical to collect will be data on mercury production and trade, which can change significantly in a short period of time.

 “Countries will not have readily available information about production and trade in bordering countries or within their region, unless there is frequent reporting under the Convention,” said David Lennett, Senior Attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council “Many borders between countries are “porous,” and where a significant portion of mercury trade is informal/illegal.   Good data on legal trade flows will enable actions to address illegal trade, all of which has a huge impact on artisanal and small scale gold mining, the largest source of mercury pollution globally.

Mercury is a global pollutant that travels long distances. Its most toxic form – methylmercury - accumulates in large predatory fish and is taken up in our bodies through eating fish, with the worst impacts on babies in utero

For more information, see:




Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Project Coordinator ‘Zero Mercury Campaign’, European Environmental Bureau, ZMWG International Coordinator
T: +32 2 2891301,  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Michael Bender, ZMWG International Coordinator, T: +1 802 917 8222,   This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

For information on reporting, please contact David Lennett, Natural Resources Defense Council, T:  +1 202 460 8517   This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

For further information, please contact:

*The Zero Mercury Working Group (ZMWG) is an international coalition of over 95 public interest environmental and health non-governmental organizations from more than 50 countries from around the world formed in 2005 by the European Environmental Bureau and the Mercury Policy Project.  ZMWG strives for zero supply, demand, and emissions of mercury from all anthropogenic sources, with the goal of reducing mercury in the global environment to a minimum.  Our mission is to advocate and support the adoption and implementation of a legally binding instrument which contains mandatory obligations to eliminate where feasible, and otherwise minimize, the global supply and trade of mercury, the global demand for mercury, anthropogenic releases of mercury to the environment, and human and wildlife exposure to mercury.


EU ‘sees the light’ on energy efficient lamps: mercury content going down PDF Print
Friday, 01 October 2010 01:00

1st October 2010

Environmental NGOsi welcome the European Commission's decision to reduce the maximum mercury content in certain energy efficient lampsii It is not only a good step for the EU but also establishes a global precedent for others to follow, they say.

“We are pleased to see that Commission took steps to reduce mercury in energy efficient lamps going on the market,” said Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, EEB Zero Mercury Project Coordinator. “Many more types of lamps will require a reduction in their mercury content and the limits are much lower for those covered before. We are particularly pleased with the lowest limit introduced (2.5 mg Hg/lamp) for commonly used compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) “

“This Commission decision on mercury content in lamps now firmly establishes a global precedent that others should follow,” said Michael Bender, director of the Mercury Policy Project and Co-Coordinator of the Green Lighting Campaign.

“The new RoHS3 mercury standards promise to transform the lighting industry on a global scale,” said Alicia Culver, Director of the Responsible Purchasing Network and Co-Coordinator of the Green Lighting Campaign. “Workers will be better protected because these lower limits can generally only be reached by accurate and encapsulated (metered) dosing systems that prevent workers from becoming exposed to this persistent toxic chemical. Consumers will also face a lower health risk if a fluorescent lamp breaks in their home or office.”

Nevertheless, considering the ban of incandescent lamps already in place, the increased use of energy efficient lamps (mainly in households) and the global relevance of the issue, NGOs still have some serious reservations.

Since 2008, during the comment period, NGOs had expressed concerns that: even lower, than the proposed, limits could be set for most categories, since lamps complying with those levels are already on the market – from at least two international manufacturers; transition periods for requiring lower mercury content were too long and were not necessary, and stated that there should also be expiry dates to drive future innovation of the mercury free market.

In addition, the NGOs are disappointed that there was no maximum limit set for some lamp categories such as metal halides and some high-pressure sodium lamps (HPS) lamps, which are commonly used for lighting streets and other outdoor areas, and that the ban was not applied to certain applications such as exit signs. Ultimately, however, they strongly believe that mercury-containing lamps should only be used for a limited period of time, and be replaced with other energy-efficient and mercury-free ones such as Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs).

Complementary, on-the-ground action is now necessary to ensure control, safe disposal and limit exposure to citizens.

strengthen safe separate waste collection and recycling of mercury containing lamps. Awareness raising campaigns are necessary to inform the public about mercury and measures to be taken for safe use and disposal, including at selling points”, said Lymberidi-Settimo.

‘In addition, EU decision makers must push for strong revised RoHS and WEEEiii Directives, with stringent review procedures as well as collection and recycling targets specifically for mercury-containing lamps.”

For more information contact:

Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Project Coordinator Zero Mercury Campaign, European Environmental Bureau, T: +32 2 2891301, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it Michael Bender, Co-Coordinator , Green Lighting Campaign; Mercury Policy Project, T: +1 802-223- 9000, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it Alicia           Culver,           Director,            Responsible       Purchasing       Network,      T:       1      +510-547-5475, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Notes for editors

Under the current RoHS Directive (2002/95), its annex has been under review through the commitology procedure. A new annex has now been adopted in the form of EC Decision 2010/571, including exemptions to the prohibition of using certain hazardous substances in electr(on)ic products, such as maximum allowed limits of mercury in energy saving lamps.

In parallel the RoHS and the WEEE directives as a whole are currently under revision (recast) under the EU co- decision procedure which still has to be completed.

The new annex (EC decision 2010/571) as adopted, is currently considered as part of the existing RoHS directive (2002/95) and will be incorporated into the revised version of the directive as soon as this is agreed upon.

See also:

7 October 2009

NGO’s Comments on the classification of CFLs and their mercury content ((RoHS Annex review)

31 August 2009

Letter to Member States

Summary table

NGOs Consolidated comments on RoHS review, concerning mercury in lamps Annexes

i The European Environmental Bureau, (EEB), www.eeb.org, is a federation of more than 140 environmental citizens’ organisations based in all EU Member States and most Accession Countries, as well as in a few neighbouring countries. These organisations range from local and national, to European and international. The aim of the EEB is to protect and improve the environment of Europe and to enable the citizens of Europe to play their part in achieving that goal.

The Mercury Policy Project (MPP), www.mercurypolicy.org, began in 1998, and works to promote policies to eliminate mercury uses, reduce the export and trafficking of mercury, and significantly reduce mercury exposures at the local, national, and international levels. We co-founded the Green Lighting Campaign in collaboration with the Green Purchasing Institute and strive to work harmoniously with other groups and individuals who have similar goals and interests.

The Responsible Purchasing Network (RPN), www.ResponsiblePurchasing.org, is committed to leveraging the power of responsible procurement to conserve resources, mitigate pollution and waste, and promote a healthy economy. Conventional institutional procurement of products and services throughout the United States often results in extensive negative impacts on public health and the environment. We are committed to the identification, utilization and dissemination of standards and practices that minimize or eliminate destructive impacts without compromising performance or cost-effectiveness.

ii EC Decision 2010/571, amending the Annex of the Directive on Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) in electrical and electronic equipment, 2002/95 , under the Comitology procedure

http://eurlex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2010:251:0028:0034:EN:PDF and corrigendum http://eur­lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:201 0:254:0048:0048:EN:PDF

iii Restriction of Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment (RoHS) Directive(2002/95), Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive (2002/96)