Sunday, July 7, 2013

Governance and Waste Management Policies

Waste management policy - Developed countries

European Union

Every year about 2 billion tonnes of waste are produced in the EU. The wealthier the European Union becomes, the more waste it generates, this is the reason for its ambitious aims to face this problem. The European Union's approach to waste management is based on three principles:
  1. Waste prevention: This is a key factor in any waste management strategy and it is closely linked with improving manufacturing methods and influencing consumers to demand greener products and less packaging1.
  2. Recycling and reuse: The European Commission has defined several specific 'waste streams' for priority attention, the aim being to reduce their overall environmental impact. This includes packaging waste, end-of-life vehicles, batteries, electrical and electronic waste1.
  3. Improving final disposal and monitoring: The EU has recently approved a directive setting strict guidelines for landfill management. It bans certain types of waste, such as used tires, and sets targets for reducing quantities of biodegradable rubbish. The Union also wants to reduce emissions of dioxins and acid gases such as nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxides , and hydrogen chlorides, which can be harmful to human health1. Each Member State is required to build its own disposal capacities by the establishment of a system of national treatment facilities2.
The best solution is for the EU is to prevent the production of such waste, reintroducing it into the product cycle by recycling its components where there are ecologically and economically viable methods of doing so. In this regard, one key principle guiding policy-making process is "Producer Responsibility", in which producers have to take responsibility for their products throughout their complete life cycle3.
Some of Waste Management policies are:
  • The Landfill Levy: This policy was introduced to encourage the diversion of waste away from landfill and generate revenues that can be applied in support of waste minimization and recycling initiatives4
  • The Circular WPPR: This policy pretends reduce the quantity of biodegradable waste sent to landfill set and helps4
  • The Directive of waste: This Directive establishes a legal framework for the treatment of waste within the Community. It aims at protecting the environment and human health through the prevention of the harmful effects of waste generation and waste management.
Europe has as a framework for coordinating waste management in the Member States in order to limit the generation of waste and to optimize the organization of waste treatment and disposal5.
Germany is a good example in the use of waste issues, because German waste management is an important industrial sector and provides high-quality technology for the efficient use of waste as a resource and the environmentally sound disposal of the remaining residual waste. This country base all its waste management in the principle "Avoidance, recovery and disposal" and product responsibility as the heart of waste management policy. The government wants to develop waste and closed cycle management into a sustainable resource-efficient materials flow management over the next years. Also it pretends to use innovative waste concepts for responsible resource management climate protection6.
In general we can say that any producer or holder of waste must carry out their treatment themselves or by a broker. Member States may cooperate, if necessary, to establish a network of waste disposal facilities. Dangerous waste must be stored and treated in conditions that ensure the protection of health and the environment. They must not, in any case be mixed with other dangerous waste and must be packaged or labeled in line with international or Community regulations. This policies help to achieve the EU objectives, such as minimization of waste materials and household waste generated, and an increase in the amounts being recycled with the aim of materials and energy recovery.


Most of the companies in Australia offering waste management are members of the Waste Management Association of Australia (WMAA). The Biohazard Waste Industry Australia and New Zealand (BWI) (formerly ANZCWMIG) is one of the divisions of the WMAA.
Waste management policies also take into consideration OHS legislation, Australian Standards and the requirements of state and territory Environment Protection Authorities. They also have to follow "Extended Producer Responsibility" philosophy7.
  1. Waste management policy should adopt a zero waste goal to conserve natural resources for future generations, avoid the build up of toxic and noxious substances, conserve water and achieve deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions8.
  2. Reducing, reusing and recycling are integral to achieving zero waste8.
  3. Full social, environmental and economic costs must be taken into account in decisions about creating, managing and disposing of waste8.
  4. The transportation of hazardous waste must be minimized, and the Australian community must be fully informed about its location, disposal and transportation8.
National Waste Policy: Less waste, more resources which has been described as the most advanced policy in Australia. This policy establishes a comprehensive work program for national coordinated action on waste across six key areas: Reducing hazard and risk, Tailoring solutions, Providing the evidence, Taking responsibility, Improving the market, Pursuing sustainability9.
National Waste Policy sets the direction for Australia over the next 10 years to produce less waste for disposal and manage waste as a resource to deliver economic, environmental and social benefits. And also this policy heralds a new, coherent, efficient and environmentally responsible approach to waste management in Australia9.


Developed countries are good examples to developing places, and all of this has similarities in the purpose of its policies, it is interesting to see that Europe is looking for "the best" policy mix, and as Europe and the other developed countries are working in a similar way, with the purpose of the achieving of its goals and building a better world by taking care of the environment.
Waste management policy - Developing countries
The following section introduces waste management policies of two typical countries that are facing critical environmental problems.


In China, there are four laws on waste management legislation. Environmental Protection Law of the PRC is a basis for to setting up a legal waste management system. Law of the PRC on Prevention of Environment Pollution Caused by Solid Waste seeks to reduce and recycle wastes and complementing the previous one by extending producer responsibility and enhance the management of hazardous solid waste. Consolidating existing laws,Cleaner Production Promotion Law of the PRC focuses on promoting clean production technologies and practices by encouraging methods that can increase utilization rate of resources and minimize pollutants. The most recent one, Circular Economy Promotion Law of the PRC, completes the Chinese legal framework with the adoption of Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle (3R) philosophy in production and regulations to avoid re-pollution during reusing and recycling stages10.
At a lower level, separate systems and guidelines are subject to the four generic laws previously mentions. Each system regulates one particular facet of waste management. The following paragraphs will address the most important ones:
Hazardous waste management system entails a comprehensive catalog of hazardous wastes with a distinguishing mark to identify hazardous wastes from others. It requires that producers of these wastes have waste management plans and report them periodically to the government. Treatment facilities and sites are required to apply for governmental licenses to operate, to have centralized organizations, and to set aside a decommissioning expense in advance. Transfer of hazardous wastes through Chinese territory is prohibited10.
E-waste management system provides classifications of electrical and electronic wastes. Similar to hazardous waste system, it requires the establishment of centralized, licensed processing facilities for e-wastes. Municipal governments can set up those facilities, and are responsible for making treatment plans, while subsidy is provided by the State. Recently, China has also implemented Home Appliances Trade-in Policy that grants 10% subsidy to households when they trade old devices for new ones; replaced appliances will be collected, dismantled and recycled at designated sites10.
Waste import and export management follows principles of Basel Convention, an international environmental agreement on hazardous and other wastes. The principles include three basic ones:
  • "To prevent the pollution caused by imported wastes and to protect the domestic environment and human health"
  • "To utilize import recyclable wastes, and to meet the demand for raw materials"
  • "The export of hazardous waste must fulfill the requirements of the Basel Convention on the prior notification procedure and of the destination"
Several fundamental regulations on imported wastes prohibit the importation of wastes that cannot be used as raw materials, or in an environmental-friendly way, the transfer of hazardous waste through the territory of China, and the dumping, storage, and disposal of wastes from foreign countries10.
For wastes that can be imported, a license is required, and subject to inspection at various stages. Unqualified imported wastes are to be shipped back to foreign suppliers. Illegal importers face a sentence up to five years in prison and financial punishments11.
Municipal waste management system promotes the reduction of waste generations. On waste processing, it encourages development of separation, collection, and transport system, and appropriate adoption of treatment methods, such as sanitary landfill, clean incineration, and biological treatment10.


India is one of the first countries to make provisions for environmental protection. According to Environmental Information System Centre (India), Article 48-A of the Indian Constitution stipulates that the government makes attempts to protect and improve the environment. Article 52-A requires every citizen to protect and preserve the environment and its constituents as a fundamental duty12.
There are various rules and regulations on waste management. Laws on several important areas are as follows:
Hazardous waste: All hazardous wastes must be treated appropriately in the common disposal facilities. In places where these facilities are absent, waste generators must seek permissions to store toxic substances temporarily in secure areas within their premises. The government will license recyclers with environmentally sound management systems. In addition, two other laws regulate particular kinds of toxic wastes. Rules on lead acid batteries stipulate that consumers must return used batteries; manufacturers and importers are responsible for collecting such products and can only sell them to registered recyclers. Rules on biomedical wastes offer a classifications system and respective disposal methods for each kind of waste13. A list of hazardous items banned from export and import is provided.
E-waste: To address the issue of electronic waste, India is drafting an e-waste management regulation set. There are four key policies outlined in the law. In accordance with the "Extended Producer Responsibility" principle, the law requires that electrical and electronic manufacturers take responsibility for e-waste produced at the end of their products' life cycle. They have to take back and process the wastes such that there is no adverse effect on human health and on environment, and create schemes to encourage consumers to return electronic products. The law also seeks to reduce hazardous materials, such as lead and mercury, in electronic devices by promoting eco-friendly designs that limit the use of such substances. More importantly, the regulations prohibit e-waste import for charity purposes. Prior to this law, importers had been exploiting this legislative hole to dump e-waste into India. Finally, all collectors, dismantlers, refurbishers and recyclers are required to register with the government. Only those with modern, environment-friendly technology will be registered14.
Municipal waste management assigns municipal authorities the responsibility to develop infrastructure for collecting, separating, transporting, processing, and recycling municipal solid wastes15.


Compared to developed countries, developing countries also have relatively sound environmental policies. In particular, their regulations on waste management are rather comprehensive. Although there are differences in policies among these countries, they theoretically work well and are supposed to protect the environment effectively.
Comparison between the policies of developed and developing countries
The prevailing question we usually ask is: are policies of developing countries as good as those of developed ones? One noticeable comment we can make is there are six remarkable similarities in waste management policies of the countries analyzed. Although specific regulations are diverse, they follow essentially the same principles:
  • Aim at waste minimization: All countries in question attempt to encourage product designs and production methods that can utilize a larger portion of raw materials (China), and limit the amount of waste generated at the product's life end (EU), especially those harmful to the environment and human health (India). Among them, one even strives to set policies that can produce zero waste (Australia).
  • Promote Reuse and Recycle philosophy: Beside the goal of reducing useless substances and materials, all governments promotes the practice of reusing and recycling materials as input production materials (EU, Australia, China and India).
  • Seek to impose stricter monitoring process on waste disposal: One of the major directions of waste management policies, stricter monitoring is being developed. In some countries, it is specified by various regulations on the kinds and methods of waste treatment (EU) or by taking into consideration social and environmental factors on making waste-related decisions, rather than only the conventional economic component (Australia). Two countries regulate treatment facilities through a licensing system (China and India); one of them allows only registered players in waste management industry, such as collectors, dismantlers and recyclers, with modern and environmentally sound technology to operate (India).
  • Regulate the waste transport: One state aims at minimizing waste transport and demands full information of any waste transport taking place (Australia). Another state issues permissions to exporters and importers transporting harmless, necessary wastes that can be used as production materials, while prohibiting the transfer of waste through its territory (China). Still another defines a list of wastes banned from export and import (India).
  • Extended Producer Responsibility: Policy-makers enjoin producers to take responsibility for their products throughout the entire product life cycle - from design to spent-product management. Three governments incorporate this principle into either its directives for Member States (EU) or its environmental law (Australia and China). One state has regulations enjoining consumers to return their used batteries, and manufacturers to take back their products (India).
  • Government takes part in setting up disposal facilities and defines methods to process different kinds of wastes: One government requires the Member States to develop their treatment capacities individually by setting up a national network of disposal facilities (EU). Two countries assign municipal authorities the duty to establish treatment sites. (China and India). All the three states stipulate appropriate disposal method for each kind of waste.
The analysis leads to an apparent conclusion that developing countries are catching up developed countries in terms of environmental protection. Comparing policies is a difficult task, as policies following the same directions may vary greatly. Although many similar principles have been identified, there are possibilities that one law is more effective than another. To have a better insight into how particular policies are being used for environmental regulations, we investigate the case of electronic waste.

  1. European Commission Environment. Waste. 21 Jan 2011. Web. 7 Feb. 2011. abc
  2. European Union. European Environment Agency. Waste without borders in the EU? Transboundary shipments of waste. 4 Mar. 2009. Web. 9 Feb. 2011. ^
  3. Ferraresi, Paolo. "European waste policy: prevention a dream?" Rreuse - a Network Symbol of Sustainable Development in Practice. Rreuse. n.d., Web. 9 Feb. 2011. ^
  4. Eunomia. International Review of Waste Management Policy: Annexes to Main Report. 29 Sep. 2009. Web. 7 Feb. 2011. ab
  5. Europa. Waste Disposal. 4 Mar 2009. Web. 8 Feb. 2011. ^
  6. Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety. General Information Waste Management in Germany. Sep 2010. Web. 8 Feb. 2011. ^
  7. Environment Business Media (WME). Tipping point: The new shift in waste responsibilities. 2011. Web. 7 Feb. 2011. ^
  8. The Greens. Waste. 26 May. Web. 7 Feb. 2011. a,b,c,d
  9. Australian Goverment. Less waste, more resources. 24 Dec 2010. Web. 7 Feb. 2011. a,b
  10. Ministry of Environmental Protection of China (MEP). Waste Management Policies and Practices in China. 28-29 Jul. 2010. Web. 5 Feb. 2011. a,b,c,d,e
  11. Zhang, Jialing. The Import Waste Management in China. 8 May 2008. Web. 5 Feb. 2011. ^
  12. T. Chakrabarti, M.P. Patil, and Sukumar Devotta. "Status Report on Management of Hazardous Waste inIndia". Environmental Information System Centre. Ministry of Environment & Forests, Govt. of India, 2006. Web. 8 Feb 2011. ^
  13. Ministry of Environment and Forest, Government of India. Hazardous Substances Management (HSM) Division. Items of work handled. n.d. Web. 5 Feb. 2011. ^
  14. "E-waste Management in India - Emerging policy environment." Olive Earth. Olive Earth, n.d. Web. 5 Feb. 2011. ^
  15. India. Municipal Solid Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules. 2000. Web. 5 Feb. 2011. ^


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