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 4: Recycling

Alexander Gillespie

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


This chapter is about recycling and related practices. The recycling symbol is one of the most easy to identify labels of environmental responsibility. In the 21st century, it appears that environmental, economic and social goals have combined to support recycling and make this practice the common form of environmental action for many, if not most, citizens. It is also actively pursued by many private enterprises and governments trying to tackle unwanted waste. The goals in this area are well entrenched in domestic, regional and international law and policy, with a number of specific international laws being directly targeted to address specific waste streams for recycling, such as old ships, or the overall trade in unwanted materials for recycling ranging from plastic to electronic waste. However, as experience has shown over the last three decades, at each point, the economic, social and environmental considerations related to recycling must be carefully considered. The terms recycling, reuse, recovery and reclamation are often used interchangeably. However, each of these terms is very different, and their dissimilarities can make a mountain of difference with how a waste stream is dealt with. For example, if an old computer is to be reused, in most instances, it can be traded internationally as it is not hazardous waste. However, if it is to be recycled, it may be hazardous waste, and strong caution is urged in any potential international trade.

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