Harmful substances and hazardous waste

Chemicals, if not managed properly, can endanger human health, lives and severely damage the environment. Zoï addresses chemical issues on the one hand in global or regional visual packages, such as ‘Vital Waste Graphics’, in addition we are very active in environmental and social issues concerning mining industry.

Zoï Environment assesses environmental issues arising from minerals mining and processing. Among the many Mining & Environment related projects throughout the former Soviet Union and the Balkans, we have conducted several technical and economic assessments for a mining site in Kyrgyzstan, home to the world’s last known exporting mercury mine.  Zoï Environment examines risks for environmental pollution, emission sources and screens contamination levels with the help of local and international laboratories. Zoï Environment also organizes expert missions with renowned technical and environmental experts in the field to examine the local situation and to develop remediation concepts for the sites.


Zoï Books are produced for the United Nations, the European Union, regions, countries and a growing community of readers world-wide. We closely cooperate with GRID-Arendal in providing environmental information for decision-making.

Our digital library is available here.

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E-course on management of mercury waste, 2017

This course, aimed at government officials and practitioners dealing with mercury waste issues worldwide, offers guidance for understand better how to manage mercury wastes in an environmentally sound manner, as stipulated by the Minamata Convention and the Basel Convention. It is structured around six main modules, and will take approximately four hours to complete, not counting further reading. After completing all the units you may attempt a final quiz and obtain a certificate of completion.

The course has been developed by the International Environmental Technology Centre of UN Environment, in collaboration with Zoï.

Take the course

Global Mercury Waste Assessment, 2017

The Global Mercury Waste Assessment describes the current mercury waste management practices in selected countries around the world. The data relating to mercury waste, such as inventories, thresholds and mercury concentrations in municipal and hazardous wastes, were limited or did not exist, and the amount of mercury in waste at the global level remains unclear. One important finding, however, is clear: the gap between the provisions of the Minamata Convention on Mercury and the current mercury waste management practices is wide.

The assessment was developed by UN Environment with support from Zoï.


English: ebook pdf
Arabic: ebook pdf
Chinese: ebook pdf
French: ebook pdf
Russian: ebook pdf
Spanish: ebook pdf


Global Mercury: Supply, Trade and Demand, 2017

A response by the world’s nations to the abundant evidence of the negative effects of mercury pollution on human health and the environment, the Minamata Convention on Mercury entered into force on 16 August 2017. The Convention includes provisions to control the supply, trade and use of mercury. This report provides an overview of the current state of these activities in order to assist governments and other stakeholders as the Convention moves into the implementation phase. The most important findings and observations are summarized here.

Lessons from Countries Phasing Down Dental Amalgam Use, 2016

Dentistry may not be the first use of mercury that comes to mind when considering this heavy metal. Nevertheless the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Global Mercury Assessment 2013 revealed that mercury in dental use amounts to some 10% of global mercury consumption overall, and over 20% of global mercury consumption in products. Due to growing concern regarding impacts of mercury on the environment, governments decided to negotiate a legally binding instrument on mercury, and the text of the Minamata Convention on Mercury was completed and adopted in 2013, one of the key provisions being the requirement for countries to phase down their use of dental amalgam. Based on official country responses to a UNEP survey questionnaire, this report presents a range of measures already taken by some countries in pursuit of their objectives to phase down or entirely eliminate the use of dental amalgam. It is intended that these examples may inspire and instruct other countries’ efforts.

pdf (pages)    pdf (spreads)


Joint scientific and technical publications tool, 2014

In collaboration with the Secretariats of Basel, Stockholm and Rotterdam Conventions, Zoï have made an inventory of the technical and scientific publications under the three conventions and designed an intuitive tool to browse through these. 

The tool can be viewed here.

Waste and Chemicals in Azerbaijan - A visual synthesis, 2013

This publication aims at catalysing remedial action on environmental legacies and responsible approaches to waste and chemical management in Azerbaijan by sharing information and improving public awareness of situations and trends, main areas of concern and notable responses.

A short introduction to environmental remediation for mining legacies: case studies from ENVSEC work in South East Europe, 2013

In close cooperation with UNEP and the ENVSEC initiative, Zoï has compiled a highly visual report summarizing the innovative work the Environment and Security (ENVSEC) initiative has conducted in the Balkans during the last 5 years. Understanding the health and environmental risks arising from mining legacies is crucial for future decision-making, but simply knowing that the risks exist is not sufficient: providing solutions on how to reduce risks and enhance cooperation is also important. Therefore, ENVSEC wanted to create regional examples that provide realistic options on how these risks can be minimized with cost-efficient interventions that can be replicated across the region. These example sites are now being used as educational tools where experts, students and others can get in touch and acquire an understanding of what has been done, and can then apply their knowledge in similar projects in other locations.

Mercury and other Toxic Chemicals and Waste - A Cartoon Summary, 2013

This publication aims at improving public awareness of mercury environment and health risks, catalysing remedial actions and promoting responsible approaches to waste and chemicals management.

Waste and Chemicals in Central Asia, 2013

This report provides a synthesis of the available information on waste and chemicals in Central Asia, presented primarily in a visual format intended to help educators, students and decision makers in the mining, energy, chemistry, agriculture, municipal, health, environmental and other relevant sectors understand the scale and complexities of the task ahead. It was prepared by experts to communicate selected hotspots, challenges and successes to national, regional and international audiences.


Environmental Crimes, 2013

Today, environmental crimes amount to more than $100 billion a year. Those high-profit, low-risk crimes are destroying ecosystems, dramatically impacting on climate change and devastating local economies. Nevertheless, they are extremely hard to fight as they are constantly hidden within legal Environmental crimes are not soft crimes. They often occur in countries with a high rate of corruption involving violence and impacting directly on the poorest population. Environmental crimes take full advantage of the financial opacity (tax havens, e.g.) and the weakness of the worldwide transportation system trade, take advantage of tax havens and are mostly controlled by huge criminal organizations such as mafias or illegitimate firms. This brochure provides an overview of the situation, identifies some of the most important points and suggests ways to fight against this global threat.

Mercury: Time To Act, 2013

This report is the most comprehensive assessment of global Mercury emissions and speaks directly to governments involved in the development of the global treaty on mercury. It presents updates from the UNEP Global Mercury Assessment 2013 in short and punchy facts and figures backed by compelling graphics, that provide governments and civil society with the rationale and the imperative to act on this notorious pollutant.

Mining Toolkit - Prezi, 2012
Responsible Mining - A toolkit for the prevention and mediation of conflicts in the development of the mining sector, 2012

The objectives of the toolkit are to help the parties to mining activities express their interests and concerns in a constructive way and to identify areas of mutual benefit. The idea is to contribute to the prevention or resolution of conflicts and ultimately to the economic and social development of a region in an environmentally responsible manner.
Although this toolkit is based on experiences in Central Asia and makes extensive use of findings from case studies in the region, we consider it globally applicable, within the limitations naturally given by the fact that each case is unique.

Comparison of the Mining Laws of Finland and Kyrgyzstan – Main Features, 2012

This briefing paper provides a compact comparison of the mining laws of Finland and the Kyrgyz Republic. The paper has been prepared as part of the research project “Environmental Security, Mining and Good Governance” funded by the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs. The briefing paper contributes to an increased understanding on the part of the project’s parties and stakeholders of the differences in mining legislation in countries like Finland and Kyrgyzstan. The comparison also generally highlights the variety of issues that can be regulated in a legal instrument controlling mining activities.

Mining Regulation in the Kyrgyz Republic – A Review, 2012

This paper has been prepared as part of the research project Environmental security, mining and good governance which is implemented under and funded by the Security and Development research of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland.

Toolkit Companion with Case Studies - Mining, development and environment in Central Asia, 2012

This toolkit companion is an illustrated overview of the trends and challenges in environment, mining and development of the Kyrgyz Republic and Central Asia. It focuses on environmental security in the mining sector and highlights selected causes and ingredients of recent mining-related conflicts, the lessons learned and the opportunities for solutions. The information comes from interviews with key stakeholders during fieldwork and desk studies, from official and scientific sources and from media accounts. The toolkit companion strives to maintain complete and up-to-date information and to take the neutral position in assessing the local mining conflicts and identifying solutions. It provides Kyrgyz and region-specific material in support of the toolkit application.

A Cartoon Summary of the Toolkit Companion, 2012

Mining, development and environment in Central Asia.

Policy Brief: Mining in the Chatkal Valley – Lack of dialogue and poor governance resulting in local resistance, 2012

During the last decade, to boost the national economy, Kyrgyzstan has strived to develop its mining industry through efforts to attract foreign investors. However, at the same time, Kyrgyzstan has had an increasing number of conflicts between mining companies and local communities. Study of the Chatkal Valley case suggests that the local resistance now leading to severe conflicts may have been encouraged by poor governance of the mining industry and lack of cooperation between stakeholders, also contributing are the industry’s and some levels of government’s lack of acknowledgement of social impacts and community interests. We argue that adequate assessment and management of the social impacts of mining are vital to the sustainable development of both the industry and the society in which it operates.

UNEP Strategic Priorities in Europe, 2012

The United Nations Environment Programme 2011–2013 strategy focuses on six thematic priorities – climate change; resource efficiency; disasters and conflicts; environmental governance; harmful substances and hazardous waste; and ecosystem management. As part of its effort to come to terms with these priorities, UNEP engaged Zoï to create thematic maps for use as objective tools for priority setting in the European region.

Vital Waste Graphics 3, 2012

From generation to disposal, waste is a by-product of societal dynamics, and all too often absent from our consideration. Vital Waste Graphics 3 seeks to put waste in context by looking at some of the forces driving global trends, examining various concerns and the strategies developed to address them and considering the difficulties encountered in implementing these strategies.

Khaidarkan alternatives - Towards a mercury-free future, 2012

This study explores selected options that can replace the mercury mining at the Khaidarkan Mercury Combine (KMC) near the Aidarken settlement in Kyrgyzstan. It considers mining economics, geology and the environmental, health and social effects of the various alternatives.

Mercury trade in the world - Zoïmap, 2011

A solid appreciation of commercial mercury trade is a vital foundation upon which governments can build effective strategies and promote specific measures to address national and global mercury challenges.

Khaidarkan Mercury - Poster, 2011

There is now only one known mercury mine in the world which continues to sell its output abroad: Khaidarkan, in the remote mountains of southern Kyrgyzstan.

UNEP Global Mercury, Chlor-alkali partnership area - Poster, 2011

Design, maps, graphics and layout by Zoï Environment Network.

Poster presented at the "International Conference on mercury as a global polluant", July 2001.

Mining and Environment in the Western Balkans, 2010

Over the last few years UNEP and its ENVSEC partners have been working to identify and reduce transboundary environmental risks from hazardous mining operations in South Eastern Europe, with the focus on Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia. This document seeks to provide an overview of the results and experience created over this period to facilitate related work in the future and ensure broad dissemination of the lessons learned to guarantee that the efforts made so far can be sustained.

Interactive map

Vital Ozone Graphics 2 - The Climate link, 2009

A Resource Kit for journalists, which provides the essential visuals, facts, links and contacts to develop ozone story ideas. This publication is intended to serve as an interesting reference for those who wish to learn more about the Montreal Protocol and ozone layer depletion.

Khaidarkan Mercury - Addressing primary mercury mining in Kyrgyzstan, 2009

This book depicts the world’s last known exporting mercury mine – at Khaidarkan in southern Kyrgyzstan. For two years, Zoï assisted the Government of Kyrgyzstan and national and local stakeholders to consider options regarding the future of the mine.

Technical paper: Greening the waste heaps - Best practice in mining site rehabilitation, 2008

Introduction of Best Practice in mining site rehabilitation based on case studies and policy examples from around the world. 'Greening the dumps best practices' is in Russian and was presented at the conference ‘Rehabilitation of industrial land’, on 10 October, 2008 in Donetsk, Ukraine.

Mining for Closure: Policies, practises and guidelines for sustainable mining and closure of mines, 2005

This publication of the Environment and Security Initiative (ENVSEC) aims to present a basis for action within South Eastern Europe and within the Tisza River Basin towards the development of corporate practice, regulatory frameworks, governance guidelines and/or financial and insurance markets suitable for the support of a modern mining industry.