Chapter 10: Illegal trade in hazardous waste
Waste is a by-product of contemporary society, present in ever higher quantities given the growing rates of consumption and production. The use of chemicals in manufacturing products has also increased the toxicity of waste (Pellow 2007). Nowadays, a massive industry deals with recycling and disposal of all that is discarded, including hazardous waste. As a result, waste is not a useless residue any more but a valuable commodity driven by global supply and demand. From collection to recycling, the value of the global waste market is estimated to be about US$410 billion yearly (excluding the informal waste market) (Rucevska et al. 2015). Waste is a health hazard, especially when dismantling and disposal policies and practices are cumbersome. The substandard treatment and disposal of hazardous waste has been referred to as problematic, with industrialized countries externalizing the environmental harm to developing regions of the world. Given its potential harm, hazardous waste is subject to a number of international environmental conventions. Although the trade in hazardous waste is one of the most regulated, several crime-control challenges remain, not least due to the criminogenic characteristics of the waste sector and product. Opportunities arise for illegal activities in different stages of the waste process and most of these are very lucrative. Waste crime refers to the trade, treatment or disposal of waste in ways that breach environmental legislation and that cause harm or risk to the environment and human health. Many cases of non-compliance with waste regulation are, however, dealt with administratively and might not even come to the attention of police or justice officials.
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