International Legislation & Policy

Basel Convention: The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal, commonly referred to as the Basel Convention, is an international treaty designed to reduce the shipment of hazardous waste between nations. In particular, it is meant to prevent the shipment of hazardous wastes to developing countries, where less strenuous or non-existent environmental laws could allow for the processing of waste in ways that would be forbidden in the waste's country of origin. The Convention encourages the environmentally responsible management of waste as close as possible to its point of generation. The Convention further promotes reduced volume and toxicity of waste generation by all countries that are parties to the Convention, as well as environmentally sound waste management within developing countries. The Basel Ban Amendment (not yet in force, but considered morally binding by parties to the Convention) prohibits export of hazardous waste from a list of developed countries to less developed countries for any reason, including recycling. The Convention came into force in 1992 and has 172 Parties. Among those Parties Afghanistan, Haiti and the United States of America have yet to ratify the treaty. For further information, see the Basel Convention web site, the Basel Action Network web site and the Wikipedia article on the Convention.

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The Act on Registration and Evaluation of Chemical Substances, South Korea, (aka Korea REACH or K-REACH), was passed on April 30, 2013 and will come into effect on January 1, 2015. It is regarded as the first REACH-style chemical regulation adopted in an Asian country (see Europe, below). K-REACH requires the mandatory reporting, registration and notification of manufactured and imported new chemical substances, existing chemical substances, and products containing hazardous substances. For more information, including information on who is affected, how to comply, data submission, etc., see the K-REACH page on See also "South Korea's National Assembly Adopts K-REACH," which outlines basic provisions, and comments on K-REACH and lessons learned from EU REACH. The full text of K-REACH in English is available on the International Zinc Association's web site at

See the Institute of Developing Economies Japan External Trade Organization (IDE-JETRO) publication Promoting 3Rs in Developing Countries - Lessons from the Japanese Experience (published October 2008). Chapter 6 of this publication is A Comparative Study of E-Waste Recycling Systems in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan form the EPR Perspective: Implications for Developing Countries, written by Sung-Woo Chung and Rie Murakami-Suzuki.

See also the Japan for Sustainability article (dated 6/3/09), Revised Law Requires Recycling of Additional Home Appliances.

See Regulating for E-waste in China: Progress and Challenges, written by J. Ye, S. Kayaga, & I. Smout and published in the Proceedings for the Institution of Civil Engineers, Municipal Engineer 162, June 2009, Issue ME2, pages 79-85.

Alberta Electronics Designation Regulation (Alberta Regulation 94/2004). The Alberta Recycling Management Authority (ARMA) manages the recycling scheme and collects fees from retailers, wholesalers, distributors and manufacturers.

British Columbia Recycling Regulation (B.C. Reg. 449/2004) requires producers to develop a product stewardship plan or comply with such a plan for specific products. See Schedule 3 - Electronic and Electrical Product Category.

The Electronic Products Recycling Association (EPRA) of Manitoba launched a recycling program that is taking over for the previously government run Green Manitoba recycling program. See the article for more information.

Nova Scotia Solid Waste Resource Management Regulations (N.S. Reg. 25/96). See Sections 18J-18Q for information on the Electronic Products Stewardship Program.

Ontario Waste Electronic and Electronic Equipment Regulation (O. Reg. 393/04). See the Waste Diversion Ontario web site for more information.

Saskatchewan Waste Electronic Equipment Regulations (R.R.S. c.E-10.21 Reg. 4). See the Saskatchewan Waste Electronic Equipment Program (SWEEP) web site for more information. SWEEP is "a non-profit corporation established by manufacturers, retailers, and other stakeholders for the purpose of coordinating the collection and recycling of obsolete electronic equipment."

See also "E-Waste Legislation Grows in Canada" by Dr. Katalin Feszly and James Calder, originally published in Green SupplyLine, 2/19/07 and "E-Waste Product Stewardship in Canada" by Robert Fishlock and Michelle Chaisson. Each of these articles provides further information on proposed bills in other Canadian provinces.

Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive (2002/96/EC): This European Union legislation requires manufacturers of electrical and electronic equipment to provide for free collection and recycling of said equipment. An updated version of the WEEE directive (sometimes referred to as WEEE 2) went into effect in August 2012. See WEEE 2 for details. The European Commission WEEE page and the UK NetRegs site have more information on specific requirements and exemptions.
Designed by Paul Bonomini, the WEEE Man is a huge sculpture made from the amount of e-waste produced by an average UK citizen in a lifetime.

The Directive on the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment (2002/95/EC): Commonly referred to as the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive or RoHS, bans the use of six hazardous substances beyond agreed upon levels in the manufacture of electronics and electrical equipment if those products are intended for sale in the European Union (EU) market. Those six substances are: lead, cadmium, mercury, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyl (PBB) and polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) flame retardants. See the UK National Measurement Office (NMO) site on RoHS.

Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemical Substances (REACH; EC 1907/2006): This European Union legislation entered into force on June 1, 2007. Manufacturers and importers will be required to gather information on the properties of their chemical substances, which will allow their safe handling, and to register the information in a central database run by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) in Helsinki. REACH affects the manufacturers and importers of articles, such as electronic components, which contain substances included on a list of "substances of very high concern" which are released during their use (see the European Commission's "REACH Me" flyer). See the European Commission REACH web page for more information on specific requirements, full legal text and guidance documents. This legislation is complemented and amended by the CLP Regulation (for Classification, Labelling, and Packaging), which aligns the European Union system of classification, labelling and packaging chemical substances and mixtures to the Globally Harmonised System (GHS). It came into force on January 20, 2009, and replaced the system contained in the Dangerous Substances Directive (67/548/EEC) and the Dangerous Preparations Directive (1999/45/EC). See the Wikipedia article on the CLP Regulation for further details.

Latin America and the Caribbean
There has been an increasing movement to stop illegal dumping of eWaste to South America and the Caribbean, but oftentimes, legislation is lacking to stop the illegal trades. Several countries, however, have teamed up with the Swiss e-Waste Programme and have started passing laws determined to stop eWaste from entering their cities. The United Nations Environment Programme also lists the Environmental Law in the Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean.

A list of downloadable legislation is provided online, but most of the downloads are only available in Spanish.

In addition, the E-Waste Recycling in Latin America report was published, detailing the challenges and potential of eWaste in Latin America.

Because legislation within Latin American states is lacking, the US EPA has developed Integrated Environmental Strategies with several Latin American countries.

Argentina passed a national legislation which calls for safe electronics waste management.

Mato Grosso, a state in Brazil, became the first Latin American state to pass a WEEE bill, which passes a specific law to prevent eWaste. The state of Santa Catarina passed a similar law promoting recycling and reusing of old electronics instead of landfilling the products.

The Brazilian state of Paraná has implemented a Zero Waste bill, which is geared toward developing a Design for End of Life strategy with manufacturers in order to help protect the environment.

Chile ratified the Basel Ban, which would stop illegal dumping of old and broken computers from developed countries to undeveloped countries.

Morelos, a central Mexican state, has passed a comprehensive solid waste law, which asks for the provision of favorable conditions which would provide easier ways of electronics recycling.

In Sept. 2009, Switzerland and Peru signed an agreement to make eWaste disposal more environmentally friendly.

Puerto Rico
In 2008, Puerto Rico’s Solid Waste Authority began amending its Regulation for the Reduction, Re-use and Recycling. The amendments would focus on diverting waste, such as wood, electronics, and sludge, from landfills to more environmentally responsible means.

Uruguay has signed on to the WEEE legislation along with several other South American countries, where the bill is designed to create a management system of vendors and manufacturers which would recycle or reuse old electronics and electronic components.

eWaste legislation is very loose, which allows for much illegal dumping to occur. In order to set up legislation in African countries, the Swiss e-waste guide has partnered with several countries. In addition, the UN has also come to Africa’s aid to help them develop eWaste legislation.

Concerns over the amounts of eWaste discarded in Africa are increasing governmental pressures to set up legislation to prevent the electronic dumping from developed countries.

Information about waste management, including electronic waste can be found on Nigeria’s National Environmental standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) website.

South Africa
Alan Finlay's e-Waste Assessment South Africa outlines the country's current ewaste standards, household surveys, and other pertinent information with regards to solving the e-waste problem within the country. South Africa's Department of Environment Affairs and Tourism also provides an overview of the National Environmental Management Waste Bill.

Australia’s National Waste Policy has been published online, with specific descriptions of electrical and electronic waste management in Australia.

The Australian government also published The National Waste Policy: Managing Waste to 2020, which presents statistics of current waste management practices. The document contains a section detaining electronic waste management on page 41.

A new Australian legislation was recently signed banning electronic dumping in Sidney, starting in January 2010. The new law is attempting to encourage state and federal legislation to ban electronic throughout the country.

New Zealand
Although New Zealand has no official legislation dealing with electronic waste, several steps have been made to encourage national legislation. Information regarding e-waste can be found on the New Zealand Sustainability page.

The ZeroWaste initiative was largely responsible for the Waste Minimization Act of 2008 which allows for product stewardship schemes that would allow for products to be recycled instead of sent to a landfill.

The Computer Access NZ Trust (CANZ) has published their e-Waste in New Zealand document detaining information about eWaste and how to prevent it.

If you would like to suggest laws or policies not mentioned above for inclusion on this page, please contact Joy Scrogum.