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 10: Conclusion

Alexander Gillespie

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


The first goal of this book was to show the scale of the problem that modern waste has become, and what contextual certainties can be taken as given when working on this topic. What I found was that there are four relative certainties on waste. The first is the definition of what waste is – something relatively solid, 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. If those seeking to dispose of the waste have scruples and wish to follow the law (as opposed to dumping it illegally), the trend, as it has been for the last 200 years, is to dispose of it where there will be least resistance, and thus, the lowest economic cost. Historically, this meant disposing of waste in either the commons, such as the ocean or rivers, or near communities without the economic capacity to object. Historically, this consideration of economic weakness was found within the poor regions of a town, city or country. Now, it is also found internationally as either pure waste or waste generated from recycling operations moves towards poor communities (and them towards it) at great speed. The reaction to this problem in areas where there are economic alternatives has been the creation of a new type of social movement, known as NIMBY. These movements are no longer the monopoly of the working class in wealthy countries.

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