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Adapted from European Commission, Directorate General for Environment, 2004, Brussels. Designed by Zoï Environment Network / GRID-Arendal, December 2012.
Uploaded on Tuesday 01 Oct 2013
The industry's self-commitment to phase out mercury use in the chlor-alkali industry
Efforts to confront the threat posed by mercury to human health and the environment have grown over the last decades. There are a number of initiatives aiming, for example, to reduce the use of mercury in products, to remediate sites and to clean up historic pollution. Some countries have introduced far-reaching regulations. Global action, however, has been rather limited.
In 2008, United States of America (USA) introduced its Mercury Export Ban Act, which bans the export of mercury from the USA from 1 January 2013. It also includes provisions on long-term mercury management and storage. Because the USA is one of the world’s top mercury exporters, implementation of the act will remove a significant amount from the global mar- ket (US EPA, 2012).
The European Union (EU) banned mercury exports in 2011. Under EU law, mercury that is no longer used by the chlor-alkali industry or that is produced in certain other industrial operations must be put into safe storage. Although the EU stopped all forms of mercury mining in 2001, as recently as 2008 it was the world’s biggest exporter, responsible for up to a quarter of the global supply.
Only a few countries such as Canada and the USA have taken steps to set national standards specifically for mercury emissions from coal-fired plants. Relatively strict mercury control requirements in Canada demand significant investment in some plants.