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New treaty’s entry into force set to curtail global mercury crisis, say NGOs


“While there are alternatives to mercury, there are no alternatives to global cooperation,” said Michael Bender, coordinator of the Zero Mercury Working Group. “Mercury respects no boundaries and exposes people everywhere”
“Only a global pact can curtail this dangerous neurotoxin.”

In October 2013 the convention text was adopted and signed by 128 countries, but would not take legal effect until at least 50 countries had ratified it formally.  This milestone was reached in May of this year, and the convention enters into force today 16 August. 

“We are now on the right track,” said Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Project Manager, European Environmental Bureau and ZMWG co- coordinator. 

“Over time, the Convention is expected to provide the necessary technical and financial resources to reduce the risk of exposure to mercury worldwide. Governments must therefore move swiftly towards efficient implementation of the Treaty’s provisions”.

The aim of the Convention is "to protect the human health and the environment” from mercury releases.

The treaty holds critical obligations for Parties to ban new primary mercury mines while phasing out existing ones and also includes a ban on many common products and processes using mercury, measures to control releases, and a requirement for national plans to reduce mercury in artisanal and small-scale gold mining.  In addition, it seeks to reduce trade, promote sound storage of mercury and its disposal, address contaminated sites and reduce exposure from 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.

The Minamata Convention joins 3 other UN conventions seeking to reduce impacts from chemicals and waste – the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions.


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 " data-mce-href="mailto: 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 " data-mce-href="mailto: 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

Notes to the editors:

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 and small children. 

*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.

The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) is Europe's largest network of environmental citizens’ organisations, standing for environmental justice, sustainable development and participatory democracy. Our experts work on climate change, biodiversity, circular economy, air, water, soil, chemical pollution, as well as policies on industry, energy, agriculture, product design and waste prevention. We are also active on overarching issues as sustainable development, good governance, participatory democracy and the rule of law in Europe and beyond.

We have over 140 members in over 30 countries.

EC register for interest representatives: Identification number 06798511314-27
International non-profit association - Association internationale sans but lucratif (AISBL)

RoHS review of the annex in view of reducing the maximum allowed limits of mercury in energy saving lamps PDF Print
Friday, 11 March 2011 17:36

At EU level, the maximum allowed limits of mercury in energy saving lamps, among other, had been set, in an annex, as exemptions, under the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directive in 2002. As requested by the directive, the annex had to be reviewed 4 years later.

As a result the Commission – DG ENV, ordered a study to be carried out by a consultant (Oeko Institute) to collect all available information and come up with a report/proposal of what should be the new (lower) limits for different categories in lamps.

Consultation started in April 2008. EEB/ZMWG/GPI submitted comments on 1 April 2008, and then attended the meetings organised by the consultant in June and September 2008. Further comments were provided to the consultant on 15 October and 10 November 2008. The final report from the consultant was sent to the EC in March 2009.

The suggested levels of mercury in lamps, although lower were following the industry line although the report mentioned that the NGO proposals were scientifically and factually backed up. The EC adopted these suggestions and formed a draft EC proposal on the issue.

The draft EC proposal (dated 26 March 2009) and the report were presented to the MS on 7 April 2009. The EEB/ZMWG/GPI in response to the EC draft proposal and the report had sent their reaction to the EC and the MS on 3 April 2009.

A revised EC proposal was circulated to the Member States (dated 27 July 2009). 14 Member states sent comments.

The EEB/GPI sent a consolidated version of their comments and data to all MS experts on 31 August 2009, accompanied by a letter, summary of proposals and annex. These can be found below:

Mercury in lamps
Letter to Member States
Summary table
NGOs Consolidated comments on RoHS review, concerning mercury in lamps
31 August 2009

Trying to find a way around the deadlock mainly referring to the proposed content of mercury for CFLs - it was at the end proposed to break in two categories, 0-30W and 30-50W. 
A letter was sent to the governmetns' experts on 7th October 2009NGO’s Comments on the classification of CFLs and their mercury content ((RoHS Annex review)

The Draft EC decision- dated 11/11/2009 was submitted on 8 February 2010 to WTO for comments. Deadline for comments was 20 April 2010. No comments appear to have been received.

The Member States where then requested to vote on this decisision by 10 May 2010, through written procedure. To our information the decision was voted positively although some concerns where expressed by some Member states on the level of ambition and the lenght of transition period. 

The Draft EC decision was submitted to the Council for scrutiny in accordance with the procedure laid down in Article 5a(3)(a) of Council Decision 1999/468/EC, on the 8 June 2010. It appears that the Council will not oppose the proposed measures.

In parallel, the Draft EC decision was submitted to the European Parliament for scrutiny. Deadline for the European Parliament to object this decision, was the 20 August 2010. No objection was raised by the European Parliament.

The new annex was adopted as 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 and corrigendum and incorporated at the RoHS directive (consolidated version) on 1st October 2010.

The NGOs published a press release on that day to welcome the adoption of the revised annex.