Frequent Questions on International Agreements on Transboundary Shipments of Waste
On this page:
- What is the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)?
- How does the OECD control the shipment of hazardous waste between Member countries?
- Why is the United States required to comply with OECD Council Decisions?
- Where do I find the green and amber lists of waste?
- Do U.S. importers and exporters follow Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 262, Subpart H when waste is shipped between the United States and Canada, Chile or Mexico?
- Has EPA approved a specific export notification form?
- Why hasn't the United States ratified the Basel Convention?
- What is the relationship between the OECD Multilateral Waste Agreement and the Basel Convention?
The OECD is an international organization established in 1960 to assist Member countries in achieving sustainable economic growth, employment, and an increased standard of living, while simultaneously ensuring the protection of human health and the environment. OECD Member countries concern themselves with a host of international socio-economic and political issues, including environmental issues such as the transboundary movement of waste, which is the subject of the final rule.
As of December 2015, there are 34 OECD Member countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, the Republic of Korea, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The OECD website Exit contains the most current list of OECD Member countries and updates. Member countries approved by the OECD to participate in transboundary movements of waste for recycling between member countries can be found at International Agreements on Transboundary Shipments of Hazardous Waste.
On March 30, 1992, the OECD passed a decision that applies to transboundary movements of waste destined for recovery operations between OECD Member countries ("Decision of the Council C(92)39/Final Concerning the Control of Transfrontier Movements of Waste Destined for Recovery"). The 1992 Decision provides a framework for OECD Member countries to control transboundary movement of recoverable waste in an environmentally sound manner.
On June 14, 2001, the OECD Council amended the 1992 Decision by adopting ‘‘Revision of Decision C(92)30/FINAL on the Control of Transboundary Movement of Wastes Destined for Recovery Operations’’. The goal of the 2001 OECD Decision was to harmonize the procedures and requirements of the OECD with those of the Basel Convention and to eliminate duplicative activities between the two international organizations as much as practical.
Subsequent to the 2001 OECD Decision, an addendum, C(2001)107/ADD1, which consists of revised versions of the notification and movement documents and the instructions to complete them, was adopted by the OECD Council on February 28, 2002. The addendum was incorporated into the 2001 OECD Decision as section C of Appendix 8, and the combined version was issued in May 2002 as C(2001)107/FINAL. On March 30, 2004, the OECD Council adopted C(2004)20, which updated the OECD waste lists, entitled ‘‘Appendix 3: List of Wastes Subject to the Green Control Procedure’’ (also known as the Green list) and ‘‘Appendix 4: List of Wastes Subject to the Amber Control Procedure’’ (also known as the Amber List). To the extent possible, the Green and Amber Lists were revised based on the amendments made to Annexes II, VIII, and IX of the Basel Convention in November 2003. The 2001 OECD Decision was further amended in November 2005 and November 2008. The OECD Council decisions are collectively referred to as the Amended 2001 OECD Decision.
For more information on the OECD Council decisions on the shipment of waste and the consolidated text of the Amended 2001 OECD Decision, please visit the OECD Control System for waste recovery Web page Exit.
OECD Council Decisions are international agreements that create binding commitments on the United States under the terms of the OECD Convention. By consenting to the Amended 2001 Decision, the United States Government agreed to promulgate regulations necessary to ensure that the United States can implement the agreement.
The green and amber lists of wastes contained in the Guidance Manual for the Amended 2001 OECD Decision Exit are incorporated by reference in 40 CFR Part 262, Subpart H (40 CFR section 262.89). The guidance manual with the complete green and amber lists is also available in the docket in the Original copyright document for OECD Guidance Manual for the Control of Transboundary Movements of Recoverable Wastes.
Do U.S. importers and exporters follow 40 CFR Part 262, Subpart H when waste is shipped between the United States and Canada or Mexico?
Yes. As of December 31, 2016, when the Hazardous Waste Export-Import Revisions Final Rule becomes effective, all transboundary hazardous waste shipments being newly initiated with Canada, Mexico and non-OECD countries must comply with the requirements of 40 CFR Part 262 Subpart H. However, exporters and importers with an Acknowledgement of Consent (AOC) or import consent issued prior to December 31, 2016 can continue to comply with the requirements listed in their AOC letter until their consent expires. EPA has placed a copy of all export and import related regulatory text in the docket to the final rule (EPA-HQ-RCRA-2015-0147), is providing a link to the previous language in Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 262 for the importer’s and receiving facility’s convenience. Tables summarizing the major requirements with which exporters and importers will need to comply if shipments are operating with an AOC issued prior to December 31, 2016 are available:
- RCRA Requirements for Previously Consented Exports of Hazardous Waste
- RCRA Requirements for Previously Consented Imports of Hazardous Waste
Exporters of waste destined for recovery or disposal are required to notify the EPA of their intent to export. EPA requires specific data elements (See 40 CFR section 262.83(b)), but has not established a required form. EPA recommends that exporters check with the destination facility on whether the country of import has a required form. A notification form widely accepted by OECD and Basel countries is available Exit.
The United States signed the Basel Convention in 1990 and the Senate gave its advice and consent to ratification in 1992, but before the President can ratify the treaty, implementing legislation is required. The United States supports ratification of the Convention, but to date no implementing legislation has been enacted.
The Basel Convention is a multilateral international agreement governing all transboundary movements of hazardous waste for recovery or disposal. As of December 2015, 183 countries and the European Union are parties to the Basel Convention Exit, but the United States is not a party. The OECD waste agreement is a multilateral international agreement governing the smaller subset of transboundary movements of hazardous waste sent for recovery only between the OECD Member countries listed in 40 CFR section 262.58(a)(1). This agreement qualifies as an Article 11 multilateral agreement under the Basel Convention and is considered to provide a level of environmentally sound management equivalent to that of the Basel Convention requirements. The United States is a Member of the OECD.