The economics of the international trade of waste

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34 Scopus citations


International trade in hazardous and nonhazardous waste and scrap products has been growing at an exceptional rate the past two decades. This review presents current data on the magnitude and trends regarding this growth and discusses the recent literature as it pertains to the economic incentives and drivers of international waste trade. Differences in environmental policy, taxes, disposal fees, and transport costs are important determinants across countries. However, the illegal nature of many types of hazardous waste also means that organized crime may play a role in some countries. Gaps in our understanding regarding microeconomic incentives as they relate to upstream and downstream recyclers and to the social welfare implications for wages, environmental quality, and human health are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-125
Number of pages17
JournalAnnual Review of Resource Economics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 5 2015


  • Basel convention
  • environmental taxes
  • hazardous waste
  • recycling
  • scrap
  • sustainability


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