During the twelfth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 12) to the Basel Convention (held 4-15 May 2015) a draft of the technical guidelines for distinguishing between waste and non-waste electronics became a highly contested issue. The guidelines had been in development since 2010. At COP 12 the Basel Secretariat made a controversial decision to adopt an amended text of the guidelines on an interim basis. The decision was controversial because the adopted guidelines essentially moved the entire text of the guidelines to an annex of a note to the decision. The move in effect allowed the Secretariat to adopt the guidelines while leaving the substantial points of disagreement unsettled.
Adopting the guidelines in this manner means there remains no legally precise or enforceable way to distinguish waste and non-waste electronics. One of the main points of debate is how to treat exports of used electronics that may be destined for reuse, repair, or refurbishment.