Chapter 21: The Basel Convention: a tool for combating environmental crime and enhancing the management of hazardous and other wastes
Increases in the production and amount of waste entering transnational trade has been a function of growth in global production and consumption, globalization and trade liberalization as well as a dramatic increase in the chemical industry. Hazardous wastes can contain heavy metals, persistent organic pollutants, flame retardants, polychlorinated biphenyls and other toxic chemicals. Poor environmental management of such wastes can cause profound adverse effects on human health and the environment, including respiratory and skin diseases, eye infections and cancer as well as pollution, contaminated sites and water bodies, and loss of biodiversity. Advanced technological solutions are increasingly required for recycling and, in certain cases, for limiting waste management options regarding disposal due to the hazardous characteristics of such wastes (for example, polybrominated diphenyl ethers in plastics). The perception that wastes exhibit hazardous characteristics mainly at the local level changed in the 1970s and 1980s. Industrialized countries became alarmed about deteriorating air quality in cities, water pollution and the environment in general, and introduced corresponding measures, including strict environmental regulations. The environmentally sound management of hazardous wastes also implied high costs. Some companies found a cheap solution by transporting hazardous wastes to the developing world where environmental awareness was much less developed and regulations and enforcement mechanisms were lacking (Peiry 2010).
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