Managing our trade in mercury and mercury-containing products

Fish being weighed.

Mercury is a highly toxic substance. The Government is proposing to strengthen its controls on mercury.

It proposes to:

  • introduce a permitting system for trade in mercury
  • prohibit the sale, manufacture, import and export of certain products containing mercury. 

To do this it would need to:

  • make new regulations under the Waste Minimisation Act 2008
  • amend regulations under the Imports and Exports (Restrictions) Act 1988.

The proposals represent two steps that we need to take to ratify the Minamata Convention on Mercury, an international agreement addressing the harmful effects of mercury.

Consultation on a third step needed for ratification — to reduce the release of mercury into the environment from certain industrial processes — is happening as part of our Improving the quality of our air consultation.

The consultation closed on 5 August 2020.

Next steps

  • Following the consultation period, we will refine the proposed amendments taking account of the feedback we receive.
  • We will then make recommendations to the Minister for the Environment.
  • Regulations are expected to be completed by mid-2021.