is the recycling of all materials back into nature or the marketplace in a manner that protects human health and the environment.




Waste elimination, reduction, and recycling programs are undermined by nations who manage waste by exporting it to other countries. It is particularly alarming to note that some nations who are promoting Zero Waste goals, are also exporting their waste to other countries.

SEE: BASEL ACTION NETWORK http://www.ban.org/ban_news/index.html (World waste trade news and information)

Example: June 9, 1999 - BAN.org - News Release: PLAN TO SHIP ASIAN TOXIC WASTE INTO IDAHO VIA PUGET SOUND DENOUNCED - SEATTLE, USA,  -- Environmental groups today denounced a plan to import over 7,000 tons of mercury contaminated toxic waste via the ports of Tacoma or Seattle to a dumpsite in Idaho. The toxic waste produced by Taiwan plastics manufacturer Formosa Plastics Group (FPG) created an international scandal when it was illegally dumped in Cambodia late last year. To date the controversial waste has been rejected by communities in Taiwan, Cambodia, California and Nevada for environmental and health reasons. Environmentalists maintain that the toxic waste should remain in Taiwan to be treated and stored there on FPG company property.


Since 1997, the 50 states and Washington, D.C., imported 48 million tons more waste than they exported, according to data in Biocycle managzine, an industry publication. This waste appears to be coming from outside of the United States. 

Under U.S. law, there is no general prohibition against the import of hazardous or non-hazardous waste from other countries, or the export of waste to other countries.  There are, however, rules regulating shipments of hazardous waste http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/hazard/international/index.htm.

Only hazardous waste is tracked by the EPA. Non-hazardous  waste import data is not reported. 


 Year Waste Imports (tons) - minus Exports   = Foreign Waste? 
199721,319,000 - 13,977,000=  7,342,000 
199832,837,370 - 14,899,090= 17,938,280
199938,901,100- 16,090,000= 22,811,100
Totals93,057,470- 44,966,090= 48,091,380

The annual total "imported" waste by states minus the total "exported" waste by states, appears to be the amount of imported foreign "municipal" waste. This does not include other types of foreign waste imports. 

Data source: BIOCYCLE , April 1998, 1999, 2000
Table: ZWA

Only Congressman Paul E. Gillmor (R) from Ohio has offered legislation to stop foreign waste imports. The following proposed legislation addresses the issue of foreign waste imports, but not waste exports: See: LEGISLATION - HR 379 IH (search 'THOMAS' for legislation) / 106th CONGRESS / 1st Session / H. R. 379 / To permit States to prohibit the disposal of solid waste imported from other nations./ IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES / January 19, 1999 / Mr. GILLMOR introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Commerce. 


8/18/2000: TOXIC WASTE FROM MEXICO ON THE RISE (source: SolidWaste.comToxic waste produced in Mexico by assembly plants along the border (maquiladoras) and shipped to the United States for disposal has increased 300% in the past two years, said environmental protection officials from both nations in a meeting in El Paso, TXon Thursday.

VIDEO: Michael Thomas Productions  The Ash Barge Odyssey (Year 2000)--The remaining 3000 tons of Philadelphia's incinerated ash, which was removed from a beach in Gonaives, Haiti where it was dumped 10 years ago, is now holed-up in a hopper barge in the St. Lucie Canal in Stuart, Florida. A 14-year saga still remains unresolved for the people of Haiti, the residents of Florida and the city of Philadelphia. http://www.michaelthomasprod.com/fla.html 


Basel Convention (The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)) - "The Convention is the response of the international community to the problems caused by the annual world-wide production ....of wastes, which are hazardous to people or the environment..." United Nations Environment Programme, Geneva

Origins of the Convention - In the late 1980s, a tightening of environmental regulations in industrialized countries led to a dramatic rise in the cost of hazardous waste disposal. Searching for cheaper ways to get rid of the wastes, “toxic traders” began shipping hazardous waste to developing countries and to Eastern Europe. When this activity was revealed, international outrage led to the drafting and adoption of the Basel Convention.

During its first Decade (1989-1999), the Convention was principally devoted to setting up a framework for controlling the “transboundary” movements of hazardous wastes, that is, the movement of hazardous wastes across international frontiers. It also developed the criteria for “environmentally sound management”. A Control System, based on prior written notification, was also put into place.

During The Next Decade (2000-2010), the Convention will build on this framework by emphasizing full implementation and enforcement of treaty commitments. The other area of focus will be the minimization of hazardous waste generation. Recognizing that the long-term solution to the stockpiling of hazardous wastes is a reduction in the generation of those wastes - both in terms of quantity and hazardousness - Ministers meeting in December of 1999 set out guidelines for the Convention’s activities during the Next Decade.