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Swiss government says to control trade in mercury, but not ban it

Staff Writer | October 26, 2017
The Swiss government said it has imposed a control system to oversee the trade in mercury.
Trade   Withdrawing recycled mercury
The government, however, stopped short of an immediate outright ban.

Subject to approval by the Swiss Federal Environmental Office, exports of mercury dental mix will be permitted until the end of 2027, a government statement said.

The deadline for other mercury exports, for electric discharge lamps and welding machines, was set for the end of 2020.

The measures are aimed at withdrawing recycled mercury from the global market and storing it safely, according to the statement.

A network of European environmental organizations sought to impose an outright ban on mercury exports, in line with the European Union.

The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) urged the Swiss government to ignore commercial pressure, otherwise the country would remain the weak link in the efforts to outlaw mercury flows from Europe to the rest of the world.

"If Switzerland wants to be the flag bearer for the [Minamata] Convention, it needs to show exemplary leadership," the EEB said in statement before the Swiss government decision.

At the beginning of October, members of the Minamata Convention held their first conference in Geneva.

Switzerland is an important trader and recycler of mercury and it ratified the Minamata Convention in May 2016, Swissinfo,the website of the Swiss national broadcaster, reported.