Switzerland must enact full mercury export ban say environmental groups

Shiny Mercury drops on a pit black background

Fifty environmental groups are calling on Switzerland to match their words with action by fully banning mercury exports.

Just weeks after Switzerland held the first COP of the Minamata Convention on mercury they are considering continuing to export the dangerous neurotoxin for some allowed uses.

Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Project Manager ‘Zero Mercury Campaign’ at the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) said:

“Switzerland remains the weak link in Europe when it comes to allowing mercury flows to the rest of the world,”

The EEB is Europe’s largest network of environmental citizens’ organizations with around 140 organisations in more than 30 countries

The EU banned exports of mercury in 2011 but the Swiss mercury trade has continued. Some 50 environmental groups have come together to call on Switzerland to stop exporting mercury.

Mercury is a dangerous neurotoxin and exposure can cause serious health problems.

A public consultation was launched in Switzerland last year with proposed amendments to four ordinances. According to the FOEN website, the objective is “to ensure that recycled mercury in Switzerland is removed from the global market and stored using an environmentally sound method.”

Michael Bender, Director, Mercury Policy Project, USA said:

“Unfortunately, commercial interests are reportedly trying to convince the Swiss government to allow mercury exports dental amalgam, even though that use has been nearly phased out in Switzerland,”

“If Switzerland wants to be the flag bearer for the Convention, it needs to show exemplary leadership.”

Advocates point out that the Convention calls on Parties to phase down the use of dental amalgam, which Switzerland has already done.

Dr Shahriar Hossain, Senior Research Advisor, Environment and Social Development Organization-ESDO, Bangladesh said:

“We strongly urge Switzerland to reconsider implementing only a partial export ban,”

“Exporting mercury specifically for dental mercury use sends a contradictory message.”

Advocates say that it may be difficult to ensure that exported mercury will only go for intended uses and that any controls will not be circumvented for financial gain, or that mercury may change hands further down the chain. With the price of mercury doubling in the last year alone, financial incentives to circumvent any informal agreements or regulations have only increased.

The Swiss Federal Council’s decision is expected tomorrow Wednesday 25 October.


Notes for editors

Letter from Green Groups on Swiss Mercury Export Ban , 23 October 2017








For more information:

Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Project Coordinator ‘Zero Mercury Campaign’, European Environmental Bureau, T: +32 2 2891301, elena.lymberidi@eeb.org

Michael Bender, Director, Mercury Policy Project, USA, T: +1 802 917 8222, mercurypolicy@aol.com

Shahriar Hossain, Environment and Social Development Organization-ESDO, Bangladesh, T: 880-2-912-2729 (W), shahriar25@gmail.com