International Regulation, Comparative and Contextual Perspectives
New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series
Chapter 8: Human waste
This chapter covers the topic of the waste stream that comes directly from the human body. It has been put into a separate chapter, as this particular type of waste causes more deaths than all of the other waste streams put together. Despite these impacts, and the concerted efforts of scientists and policy makers to effectively deal with this problem for over 150 years, the progress has become very divided between the developed and the developing world, and where each region is with regard to dealing with human waste as a first, second or third generation type of problem. The first generation problem was about getting the waste out of human communities. The second generation has been about treating it, and the third, final disposal. Despite strong international interest, the success in achieving the primary goal is mixed, with strong divisions being evident between developed and developing countries. The same can be said for dealing with the international control of disposing treated human waste into freshwater systems. This is not the case for the disposal of treated human waste into the ocean, where the international regulation is much more robust, and as seen in the previous chapter, a trend is developing whereby this practice is becoming less popular. Conversely, the options that are becoming popular for final disposal are landfill, incineration or recycling.
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