The Minamata Convention on Mercury is an international treaty intended to protect human health and the environment from anthropogenic emissions and releases of mercury and mercury compounds. It comprehensively regulates entire lifecycle of mercury from mining, trade, use in products/manufacturing processes, discharge, to disposal. The Convention entered into force on August 16, 2017.
The latest text and annexes to the Minamata Convention is its 2019 revision. As of December, 2021, the Convention has 137 Parties, for which the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) serves as a secretariat.
In 2001, UNEP initiated an assessment of global mercury pollution and published a report on the impact on humans and the actual state of pollution in 2002 (Global Mercury Assessment 2002).
Subsequently, the Governing Council of UNEP’s 25th session, which was held in February 2009, reached a consensus to form a legally binding document (i.e., convention) to reduce risks imposed by mercury, to establish an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) to prepare the document, and start negotiations in 2010 with the aim of finalizing it by 2013.
The INC held its first session (INC1) in 2010. At the fifth session held in Geneva in January 2013 (INC5), the INC agreed on a draft text of an international convention on mercury, and named it “Minamata Convention on Mercury.”
Products and manufacturing processes controlled under Minamata Convention
The products and manufacturing processes to be regulated by the Convention are stipulated in Article 4 (Mercury-added products) and Article 5 (Manufacturing processes in which mercury or mercury compounds are used) of the Convention.
Part I (Products subject to Article 4, Paragraph 1) of Annex A to the Convention (Mercury-added products) stipulates mercury-added products to be phased out pursuant to Article 4, Paragraph 1 of the Convention. Table below shows the mercury-added products specified in the Part I.
|Mercury-added products||Phase-out date|
|Batteries, except for button zinc silver oxide batteries with a mercury content < 2% and button zinc air batteries with a mercury content < 2%||2020|
|Switches and relays, except very high accuracy capacitance and loss measurement bridges and high frequency radio frequency switches and relays in monitoring and control instruments with a maximum mercury content of 20 mg per bridge, switch or relay||2020|
|Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) for general lighting purposes that are ≤ 30 watts with a mercury content exceeding 5 mg per lamp burner||2020|
|Linear fluorescent lamps (LFLs) for general lighting purposes:
(a) Triband phosphor < 60 watts with a mercury content exceeding 5 mg per lamp;
(b) Halophosphate phosphor ≤ 40 watts with a mercury content exceeding 10 mg per lamp
|High pressure mercury vapour lamps (HPMV) for general lighting purposes||2020|
|Mercury in cold cathode fluorescent lamps and external electrode fluorescent lamps (CCFL and EEFL) for electronic displays:
(a) short length (≤ 500 mm) with mercury content exceeding 3.5 mg per lamp
(b) medium length (> 500 mm and ≤ 1,500 mm) with mercury content exceeding 5 mg per lamp
(c) long length (> 1,500 mm) with mercury content exceeding 13 mg per lamp
|Cosmetics (with mercury content above 1ppm), including skin lightening soaps and creams, and not including eye area cosmetics where mercury is used as a preservative and no effective and safe substitute preservatives are available||2020|
|Pesticides, biocides and topical antiseptics||2020|
|The following non-electronic measuring devices except non-electronic measuring devices installed in large-scale equipment or those used for high precision measurement, where no suitable mercury-free alternative is available:
Recent activities regarding the Minamata Convention
For the results and outcome of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Minamata Convention, please refer to the reports below:
- COP3 (November 25–29, 2019)
Minamata Convention COP3 agreed to phase out mercury-added products by 2020
- COP4 (March 21–25, 2022)
Minamata Convention on Mercury COP4 resolves to phase out eight mercury-added products by 2025
Recent trends in mercury control in Asian countries
The following pages outline the current situation of regulations over mercury in each of Asian countries.
(To be posted soon)