Plastic Waste included in Basel Convention; ABHYAS drone successfully flight-tested in India – Current Affairs

With this move, the global trade of plastic waste will become more transparent and will be better regulated. It will ensure that the management of plastic waste becomes safer for environment and human health altogether.

Created On: May 14, 2019 12:47 ISTModified On: May 14, 2019 12:50 IST
Plastic Waste

Story 1: 180 member nations agree to include Plastic Waste in Basel Convention

Around 180 member countries, except the United States, amended the 1989 Basel Convention to include plastic waste, a decision that aims to protect environment and human health from the damaging effects of harmful chemicals and waste.

The decision was taken during the 14th Meeting of the Conference of Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam & Stockholm Conventions under the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) in Geneva, Switzerland. Around 1,400 representatives deliberated on this pressing environmental issue for 12 days before reaching to the conclusion.

The meeting was held under the theme of “Clean Planet, Healthy People: Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste”.

Impact of inclusion of Plastic Waste

With this move, the global trade of plastic waste will become more transparent and will be better regulated. It will ensure that the management of plastic waste becomes safer for environment and human health altogether.

Partnership on Plastic Waste

On the same occasion, the member countries established the ‘Partnership on Plastic Waste’ to organise resources of businesses, governments, and civil society. The partnership will mobilise interests and expertise for assistance in implementing new measures to provide practical support.

What is Basel Convention?

Adopted on March 22, 1989 by the Conference of Plenipotentiaries in Basel, Switzerland, the “Basel Convention on the Control of Trans-boundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal”, generally known as the Basel Convention, came into force in 1992.

It is an international treaty that aims to reduce the movement of hazardous waste between the countries.

It particularly focuses on preventing transfer of hazardous waste from developed to less developed countries.

The Convention came as a response to a public outcry in the 1980s after Africa and other developing countries discovered deposits of toxic wastes.

It provides for cooperation between parties, including exchange of information on issues relevant to the implementation of the Convention.

Plastic Pollution

• Plastic is a huge environmental and health issue. Plastic Pollution has lately become a major environmental problem of global concern.

• Plastic makes up 10 percent of all of the waste generated in the world.

• Every year, 500 billion plastic bags are used worldwide.

• Over 100 million tonnes of plastic is now found in the oceans, of which, 80 to 90 percent comes from land-based sources.

• At least 8 million tonnes of plastic end up in the oceans every minute.

• 50 percent of the plastic used by humans is single-use or disposable plastic.

• More than 1 million plastic bottles are purchased every minute.

• The Great Pacific Garbage Patch in the North Pacific Ocean alone accounts for 79000 tons of plastic marine debris in the form of 1.8 trillion pieces. This plastic litter is troubling the marine life.

Elimination of Dicofol and Perfluorooctanoic Acid from Stockholm Convention

During the meeting, two toxic chemical groups, namely Dicofol and Perfluorooctanoic Acid, were eliminated from the Annex A of the Stockholm Convention. The Perfluorooctanoic Acid is in use till now in various industrial and domestic applications including non-stick cookware and food processing equipment.

Note: Signed in 2001, the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants is an international environmental treaty that became effective in May 2004. The treaty focuses on eliminating or restricting the production and use of persistent organic pollutants.

Phorate and Hexabromocyclododecane added to Annex III of Rotterdam Convention

The member countries agreed to the addition of pesticide Phorate and the industrial chemical Hexabromocyclododecane to Annex III of the Rotterdam Convention.

Note: Rotterdam Convention is a multilateral treaty that provides a legally-binding framework for exchange of information and informed decision-making during trade of certain hazardous pesticides and industrial chemicals.

Story 2: DRDO successfully conducts flight test of ABHYAS

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) on May 13, 2019 successfully flight tested the ABHYAS, a High-speed Expendable Aerial Target (HEAT). The flight test was conducted from the Interim Test Range, Chandipur, Odisha.

The RADARS and Electro Optic Systems kept the track of the test which proved its performance in fully independent navigation mode.

The test demonstrated the capability of ABHYAS to meet the mission requirement of the defence forces for a cost effective high-speed expendable aerial target.


After the first experimental launch in 2012 at the Chitradurga Aeronautical Test Range, the concept of ABHYAS was proved and the pre-project details were completed on January 2013.

The ABHYAS project picked up the pace after all the three defence services - Indian Air Force, Indian Army and Indian Navy floated a tender for procurement of 225 HEAT drones.

The ABHYAS is a drone built by the Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) of the DRDO.

It can fly autonomously with the help of an autopilot.

The ABHYAS offers a practical threat scenario for practice of weapon systems.

ABHYAS configuration is designed on an in-line small gas turbine engine.

It uses indigenously developed MEMS based Inertial Navigation Systems for its navigation and guidance.

The drone is used by the defence services for testing different types of missiles including air-to-air missiles and surface to air missiles.

Lakshya drone-based design

The design of ABHYAS’ fuselage is based on the Lakshya, a high speed target drone system developed by the DRDO’s Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE). The wings and tail plane of ABHYAS have been derived from the Lakshya by trimming them.

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