Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development decision OECD/LEGAL/0266


In the early 1980s, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) began work on exports and imports of waste, following the identification of indiscriminate and uncontrolled international traffic of hazardous wastes which resulted in adverse effects on human health and the environment. The OECD countries decided, in 1984, that exports and imports of hazardous waste should be controlled.

Between 1984 and 1992, eight Council Acts were adopted covering waste identification, definition and control of transboundary movements of waste. These Acts formed the basis of the Basel Convention and several European Economic Community directives.

Canada has been an active participant in the OECD decision-making process since 1961 and continues today to work with other member countries on a range of topics, including on circular economy and resource efficiency projects of the Working Party on Resource Productivity and Waste (WPRPW).

Decision of the Council Concerning the Transboundary Movements of Wastes Destined for Recovery Operations

OECD/LEGAL/0266-Decision of the Council Concerning the Transboundary Movements of Wastes Destined for Recovery Operations applies when transboundary movements of wastes destined for recovery operations take place from one OECD Member country to another. The ultimate goal of the Council Decision is to achieve a globally harmonized control system for movements of waste, through more effective harmonization and cooperation with the Basel Convention and other multilateral agreements. The terms of this Decision are implemented in Canada through the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 and the Cross-border Movement of Hazardous Waste and Hazardous Recyclable Material Regulations

It should be noted that, although the definition of waste covers those wastes destined for both disposal and recovery, the OECD Decision only applies to wastes destined for recovery. Wastes destined for disposal are subject to different legal control, in particular those established by the Basel Convention and any applicable national law.

Risk assessment

As a result of the volume and value of waste crossing OECD borders annually for recovery, the OECD has developed a control system, based on a risk assessment that provides for a simplified means to control the transboundary movements of wastes destined for recovery/recycling operations that are environmentally sound.

Risk assessment is carried out on the basis of complete information provided on a given shipment of waste, the conditions under which it is handled and transported, and the value of the material to be recycled. The more valuable the material, the less likely it will be lost or dumped during transit. Decisions about the degree of risk that a given shipment poses are based on a thorough consideration of all the various factors involved. For instance, a certain waste stream may pose significant environmental and health risks, however this stream can be controlled under stringent conditions of safety as to render the probability of an environmental accident almost negligible. In contrast, a less dangerous waste may be shipped in quantities, or under such conditions, that the potential for an accident would potentially increase. Hence, risk assessment is made on the basis of hazard and probability of a spill or other accidents.

The OECD Control System is based on two types of control procedures: Green Control Procedure for wastes that present low risk for human health and the environment and, therefore, are not subject to any other controls than those normally applied in commercial transactions; and Amber Control Procedure for wastes presenting sufficient risk to justify their control.

Although wastes subject to the Green Control Procedure are not controlled under the OECD Decision, the Decision imposes a general requirement that all wastes, including those on the Green waste list, shall be destined for recovery operations at a recovery facility that will recover them in an environmentally sound manner, according to national laws, regulations and practices.

For more details on the conditions, procedures and requirements of OECD/LEGAL/0266, you may consult the document entitled “Guidance Manual for the Control of Transboundary Movements of Recoverable Wastes”.

National competent authorities and Customs Offices as appropriate, carry out the control of waste shipments through the use of notification and movement documents. These forms and the instructions to complete them are designed in such a way to also apply to the Basel and EU control systems for transboundary movements of waste.

Compatibility with Basel Convention

OECD/LEGAL/0266 continues to be compatible with the goal of environmentally sound management of hazardous wastes pursuant to Article 11, paragraph 2 of the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal.

Recycling and recovery of wastes are environmentally sound practices and more appropriate than disposal. A practical control system such as the OECD Control System will ensure environmental protection and economic viability of the transboundary movement of recyclable hazardous materials.

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