10 October 2019: The 15th meeting of the Chemical Review Committee (CRC-15) of the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade completed its technical work to support the Rotterdam Convention’s goals of promoting shared responsibility and cooperation in the trade of hazardous chemicals and environmentally sound use of such chemicals. As a result of the Committee’s deliberations, decabromodiphenyl ether (decaBDE) (a flame retardant used in textiles, electronics, and building materials) was recommended to be made subject to the PIC procedure.

The CRC was established to review chemicals and pesticide formulations according to the criteria set out by the Convention in Annexes II and IV, respectively, and make recommendations to the Conference of the Parties (COP) for listing such chemicals in Annex III. Listing under the Rotterdam Convention does not constitute a ban, but initiates an information-sharing process between Parties to the Convention trading in these chemicals or severely hazardous pesticide formulations.

The Earth Negotiations Bulletin analysis of CRC-15 notes that, as “chemicals management issues continue to evolve, the CRC cemented its role as a key piece in the global chemicals governance puzzle.” This role was highlighted in opening statements, with Hans Dreyer, Executive Secretary of the Rotterdam Convention-Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), noting the importance of the CRC’s work in achieving the SDGs, especially through the sound management of chemicals and waste (SDG target 12.4). Carlos Martin-Novella, Deputy Executive Secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm (BRS) Conventions Secretariat, on behalf of Rolph Payet, Executive Secretary, BRS Conventions, highlighted that the work of the Committee has enabled over 160 governments around the world to better manage hazardous chemicals and pesticides, underscoring that the sound management of chemicals is a prerequisite to sustainable development and underpins every SDG. 

CRC-15 brought together approximately 90 CRC members and observers from Parties as well as industry and civil society representatives to Rome, Italy, from 8-10 October 2019. Delegates reviewed notifications from countries that took a domestic final regulatory action (FRA) that banned or severely restricted three chemicals: amitrole (an herbicide); decaBDE; and nonylphenols and nonylphenol ethoxylates (NP and NPEs) (surfactants used in a variety of industrial and consumer products).

For amitrole and NP and NPEs, the Committee concluded that some of the notifications for each chemical meet the criteria, but noted that the successful notifications come from only one PIC region. Notifications from two PIC regions are required before a chemical can be listed in the Convention. Therefore, no further action will be taken on amitrole or NP and NPEs until a country from another PIC region notifies that it has taken an FRA that bans or severely restricts the use of these chemicals.

For decaBDE, the Committee agreed that the notifications received meet the criteria, and recommended that it be listed in Annex III of the Rotterdam Convention, making it subject to the PIC procedure.

The Committee also reviewed the draft decision guidance document for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), its salts and PFOA-related compounds, which will provide information to Parties when trading in these chemicals. PFOA, its salts and related compounds have a number of uses, including in non-stick cookware and stain-resistant carpets and fabrics, among several others. [IISD RS Coverage of CRC-15] [ENB Summary of CRC-15]