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Shifting Paradigms: From Waste to Resources

End of life ship recycling
Don’t waste resources; treat waste as a resource!

The waste-resource interface is currently one of the largest unaddressed challenges facing the international waste agenda in general, and the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal in particular. There is significant unexploited potential for creating economic opportunities and safe jobs world-wide while protecting human health and the environment through the recycling and reuse of certain waste streams in an environmentally sound manner.

Despite the Basel Convention’s over-arching objective to minimize the generation and transboundary movements of hazardous and other wastes, at the global level the volume of hazardous waste which is produced and is transported across borders is increasing.

Conversely, a paradigm shift in the way in which policy-makers view waste is also taking place. Some waste streams are no longer viewed as “useless and costly” and waste management as a practice is not solely focused on treatments which are best suited for its disposal. Instead, its economic potential is more widely recognized and ground-breaking technologies and business opportunities have emerged to promote the use of waste as a valuable resource.

The Basel Convention needs to modernize to keep pace with this paradigm shift. Parties to the Convention may wish to accompany and support such a shift by considering the issue of resource management, through promoting a lifecycle approach which incorporates economic, social and environmental sustainability.

For more on this new approach, see the Recommendations of the Senior Advisory Group of Experts to the Executive Secretary of the Basel Convention on Exploring the Economic Potential of the Waste-Resource Interface

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