Waste Policy

Waste Policy

International Regulation, Comparative and Contextual Perspectives

New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series

Alexander Gillespie

The book’s premise is that all forms of waste are expanding exponentially, and are often of a hazardous nature. The author examines the size of the problem, considers how it is evolving, and assesses the legal and political implications. He then shows that existing solutions to reducing consumption and recycling are limited, and concludes by discussing potential ways forward.

Chapter 2: Five certainties on waste

Alexander Gillespie

Subjects: environment, environmental law, law - academic, environmental law, public international law


There are five certainties on waste. The first is what it is, that is, waste involves solid material (that may be liquid, but should be heavier than air) that is unwanted and has no further use. The second certainty is that as the disposal of waste increases, the trend is to find the cheapest way to dispose of it. Often, this method involves it being placed near poor communities. Following on from the recognition that waste often involves social, economic and environmental costs, the third certainty arises – that the trade in waste has often become international, and the global community has facilitated this. The fourth certainty is that individuals, private enterprises, and policy makers want to reduce waste. These goals may be either national or international. The final certainty is that the amount of waste being produced is increasing. Indeed, all of the five waste streams (wastes which come from the human body; wastes from everyday life which are common; and wastes which are hazardous, nuclear and industrial) are expanding, not shrinking, in production. For the purpose of law, the defining feature of waste is that the producer of the waste no longer wants to possess it. For example, the Waste Framework Directive of the European Commission defines ‘waste’ as any substance or object which the holder discards or intends or is required to discard.

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