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  • Print publication year: 2006
  • Online publication date: January 2010

Chapter 10 - Hazardous and Radioactive Wastes



Waste generation could be conceived a domestic problem that acquired global dimensions as countries started to export their wastes to other countries, especially developing countries. The exports of wastes from developed countries to developing countries that did not have waste regulations and infrastructure caused uproar in international circles, in the beginning of 1980s, and led to the adoption of instruments that have imposed regulatory controls or even have banned waste movements.

Waste transfers to other countries and, especially, to developing countries, were motivated by the high costs of waste disposal in developed countries. Such high costs were due to the Not-In-My Backyard (NIMBY) attitude that inhibited the construction of new waste disposal facilities in many developed countries.

Current trends show that waste generation is on the increase. The biggest waste generators continue to be the United States and member states of the EU. The amount of wastes traded internationally is increasing steadily. The main factor that has contributed to this increase in trade is the growth of transboundary waste movements destined for recovery among the EU countries. Movements of wastes involving developing countries show large fluctuations over time.

The databases available, however, are still incomplete in terms of the data on waste generated and on waste traded. This is because not the same countries report annually on the amounts of wastes they generate and trade. Furthermore, there are still many differences in the national classifications of hazardous wastes.