copy the linklink copied!Chapter 6. International co-operation

This chapter provides an overview of international waste transfers in the focus countries, including commitments to international agreements. It also reviews international co-operation on waste management, including bilateral and multilateral discussions as well as technical assistance activities and identifies examples of good practices.


“The statistical data for Israel are supplied by and under the responsibility of the relevant Israeli authorities. The use of such data by the OECD is without prejudice to the status of the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem and Israeli settlements in the West Bank under the terms of international law.

This chapter provides an overview of international waste transfers in the focus countries, including commitments to international agreements. It also reviews international co-operation on waste management, including bilateral and multilateral discussions as well as technical assistance activities and identifies examples of good practices (Box 6.1).

copy the linklink copied!
Box 6.1. Examples of good practices for international co-operation
  • Ratification and implementation of international instruments for transboundary movements of waste.

  • International co-operation on illegal waste trade (Japan).

  • Sharing of knowledge on waste management and the circular economy (Japan and Korea).

copy the linklink copied!6.1. International instruments

Nearly all OECD countries are Parties to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Waste, and all but nine are Parties to the “Ban Amendment”, which prohibits export of hazardous waste from OECD countries (and EU Member States) to other parts of the world. Three focus countries did not ratify the Ban Amendment: Israel, Korea and Japan (Israel, however, complies with the provisions of this Amendment, according to its performance review). Few OECD countries have signed the 1999 Basel Protocol on Liability. Among the focus countries, however, Colombia, not an OECD country, has ratified this Protocol, and the performance review of Israel proposed its ratification. Neither the Ban Amendment nor the Liability Protocol were in force (as of mid-2017), as they had not yet reached the minimum number of Parties.

OECD countries approved the 2001 Council Decision concerning the Control of Transboundary Movements of Wastes Destined for Recovery Operations (C(2001)107/FINAL). The Decision establishes an operational intra-OECD system to control movements of waste destined for recovery in order to protect human health and the environment while encouraging the recovery of waste and the trade of recyclable materials. It aims to simplify administrative procedures for exports and imports of waste within the OECD. In order to simplify and accelerate the notification procedures, OECD members have the possibility to designate “pre-consented recovery facilities” for which they do not raise objections concerning regular transboundary movements of certain waste types. Transboundary shipments to pre-consented facilities benefit from an accelerated procedure. As of late 2017, four of the 11 focus countries had designated “pre-consented recovery facilities” to the database maintained by the OECD Secretariat: the Netherlands, Poland, Norway and Estonia.

The performance review of Colombia noted that this country’s ratification of the Basel Convention in 1996 spurred the development of national legislation setting out requirements for the proper management of hazardous waste, including treatment facilities. The other performance reviews found that OECD countries comply with the provisions of the Basel Convention and of the 2001 OECD Council Decision.

copy the linklink copied!6.2. International waste transfers

Several OECD countries have seen large increases in their waste trade. Japan, for example, saw a 26-fold rise in exports of waste listed in the Basel Convention over the review period: one major category of hazardous waste exports is lead acid batteries, which are sent to Korea for processing and Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE). Japan also exports a range of recyclable waste, including steel scrap, waste paper and plastic scrap (sent mainly to the People’s Republic of China hereafter “China”) and coal ash, sent to Korea for use in cement production.

Among the focus countries, those in the EU had high levels of waste shipments, in particular with their European neighbours. This was the case, for example, for the Netherlands (Box 6.2). Estonia imports MSW for incineration, principally from other EU Member States. Its trade in hazardous waste come mainly from Baltic neighbours: lead acid batteries are imported for treatment in Estonia, while the country exports waste treated wood, waste fluorescent lights and waste WEEE.

copy the linklink copied!
Box 6.2. The Netherlands: waste trade with neighbouring countries

The Netherlands encouraged the import and export of non-hazardous waste with its neighbours in its national waste management plans, and in 2010, about 12 million tonnes of total waste were imported, with a roughly similar level exported: the largest shares of this trade went to Belgium and Germany. The Netherlands was the EU’s largest exporter of hazardous waste, as well as the Union’s third-largest importer. Facilities in the country have specialised in the treatment of contaminated soil, while several waste streams including batteries, are exported. Consequently, the waste makes up an important share of the country’s overall trade, at least in terms of volume, making up an estimated one-fifth of shipments between the Netherlands and Germany.

Norway saw a large increase in waste exports between 2002 and 2009, principally combustible waste sent to Denmark and Sweden for incineration, while its waste imports include hazardous incinerator fly ash. Norway abolished its incineration tax in 2010 to reduce these exports. While Norway had policy target to treat all hazardous waste domestically, about 10% was exported in 2008, including WEEE and waste batteries.

In response to high waste shipment rates, some European countries have adopted specific measure to control and monitor transboundary waste shipments. For example, in Hungary in 2015, a waste shipment department was established to oversee waste shipments. The department is responsible for preparing annual plans, reporting and inspecting shipments.

In contrast, other countries have much lower levels of waste trade. Israel, for example, exported about 2.5% of its hazardous waste for treatment, mainly in the European Union: key components include metal wastes, solvents and pharmaceuticals. Israel both exported and imported used batteries for treatment. While imports fell as OECD countries implemented the Basel Ban Amendment, the performance review predicted that these and other waste imports would increase after it joined the OECD.

Colombia has prohibited the import and transit of hazardous waste; a few waste streams are exported due to a lack of domestic treatment capacity, including obsolete pesticides, fluorescent lights and WEEE. OECD’s technical accession review called on Colombia to: minimise waste exports, ensuring that adequate treatment capacity is available within the country; control imports and exports of hazardous waste; and facilitate trade of waste for recovery within the OECD area.

OECD countries have also experienced cases of illegal traffic, including in countries such as the Netherlands with comparatively strong enforcement systems. Consequently, several performance reviews highlighted efforts to strengthen national enforcement against illegal waste traffic, in particular for hazardous waste (see also Section 4.7). Moreover, several OECD countries have led international initiatives to address illegal traffic, as described in the following section.

copy the linklink copied!6.3. International co-operation

For several OECD countries, waste management has been an important area for bilateral and multilateral co-operation. Colombia and Chile’s bilateral agreement of science and technology, for example, includes co-operation on hazardous waste management. China, Japan and Korea hold a yearly Tripartite Environment Ministers Meeting for Northeast Asia: waste is one of the ten topics, and parallel waste seminar is held each year under this framework.

Co-operation on illegal waste trade has been a key focus for international co-operation. In 2003, Japan launched the Asian Network for the Prevention of Illegal Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Waste: the network includes a policy dialogue and capacity building on implementation of the Basel Convention. Japan also supports the Basel Convention Partnership on the Environmentally Sound Management of WEEE for Asia-Pacific Region.

Several OECD countries have made waste management an element of their international co-operation. Korea, for example, has supported an incinerator project in China, a landfill in Cambodia and work on urban waste and abandoned mines in Mongolia; Korea also supported waste management planning in 11 developing countries between 2007 and 2015.

International co-operation on the circular economy is receiving growing attention. Korea and Japan (Box 6.3), for example, have promoted the 3Rs approach in Asia.

copy the linklink copied!
Box 6.3. Japan’s support for the 3Rs approach in Asia

Japan has promoted the 3Rs approach through international conferences – such as the 2006 Asia 3Rs Conference and follow-up events – policy dialogue, information centres and networks, and technology co-operation. Japan has supported the 3Rs Knowledge HUB, initiated by the Asian Development Bank and UNEP. In any example of other co-operation activities, Japanese cities and prefectures shared their experience in the Eco-Town Programme with counterparts in China.


Basel Convention (2017), Status of Ratifications, Basel Convention web site (accessed October 2017),

OECD (2001), OECD Council Decision concerning the Control of Transboundary Movements of Wastes Destined for Recovery Operations, C(2001)107/FINAL, OECD, Paris,

OECD (2010), OECD Environmental Performance Reviews: Japan 2010, OECD Publishing, Paris,

OECD (2011a), OECD Environmental Performance Reviews: Israel 2011, OECD Publishing, Paris,

OECD (2011b), OECD Environmental Performance Reviews: Norway 2011, OECD Publishing, Paris,

OECD (2012), OECD Environmental Performance Reviews: Slovenia 2012, OECD Publishing, Paris,

OECD/ECLAC (2014), OECD Environmental Performance Reviews: Colombia 2014, OECD Publishing, Paris,

OECD (2015a), OECD Environmental Performance Reviews: The Netherlands 2015, OECD Publishing, Paris,

OECD (2015b), OECD Environmental Performance Reviews: Poland 2015, OECD Publishing, Paris,

OECD (2017a), OECD Environmental Performance Reviews: Korea 2017, OECD Publishing, Paris,

OECD (2017b), OECD Environmental Performance Reviews: Estonia 2017, OECD Publishing, Paris,

OECD (2018a), OECD Environmental Performance Reviews: Hungary 2018, OECD Publishing, Paris,

OECD (2018b), OECD Environmental Performance Reviews: Czech Republic 2018, OECD Publishing, Paris,

Metadata, Legal and Rights

This document, as well as any data and map included herein, are without prejudice to the status of or sovereignty over any territory, to the delimitation of international frontiers and boundaries and to the name of any territory, city or area. Extracts from publications may be subject to additional disclaimers, which are set out in the complete version of the publication, available at the link provided.

© OECD 2019

The use of this work, whether digital or print, is governed by the Terms and Conditions to be found at

Chapter 6. International co-operation