While policies to manage wastes exist in many countries, their implementation has met with mixed success, and reporting of hazardous waste data has declined. Problems of managing waste are set to grow with recycling alone not being a sufficient solution, and exceed the capacity of countries to deal with it. Waste prevention, minimization, reduce-reuse-recycle and resource recovery all require attention.
Many developing countries are at risk of temporary regulatory vacuums where shifts in the production or use of chemicals are out of step with the implementation of adequate control and management systems, including cleaner production and the environmentally sound management of the wastes.
There is, however, an acute lack of data to indicate whether policies are effective, where the problems are most challenging and, perhaps more tellingly, where problems may be mounting but have yet to be detected. In many countries, the capacity, in particular technical capacity including finance, technology, infrastructure for the environmentally sound management of chemicals and hazardous wastes, is lacking or inadequate. This is of serious concern since there is a shift in the production of chemicals from developed to developing countries, and the use of chemicals in developing countries is growing rapidly. Due to a lack of data, little can be said about how well the internationally agreed goals in this area are being met and how to improve programmes and policies to address these goals.
Emerging issues, such as endocrine disrupting chemicals, plastic in the environment, open burning, and the manufacture and use of nano-materials and chemicals in products, require action to better understand them and prevent harm to human health and the environment.