Chair: Shawn Lau

TAS Model United Nations 2015
The Environment Committee
Securing the safe use of chemicals and waste management practices
in Industry
Shawn Lau
Securing the safe use of chemical and waste management practices has been a growing
problem since the industrial revolution. This problem ranges from the inability to establish and/or enforce
efficient environmental policies, to properly educating laborers so they can safely handle the chemical
wastes. Many countries, especially developed ones, have established many of these environmental
policies and standards that industries do follow, but many more industries in developing or undeveloped
countries do not have the ability and/or commitment to follow the guidelines the state has set. However,
many developed nations also take advantage of underdeveloped nations to expand businesses to
increase profit due to lack of environmental policies in the underdeveloped nations. This is a pressing
issue that both the developed and the underdeveloped nations need to address. Too much of these
dangerous and toxic wastes get dumped illegally everyday which harms the population and the
Definition of Key Terms
Biohazard (Noun)
A biological or chemical substance or situation that is dangerous to human beings and the
Management (Noun)
Means the collection, transport and disposal of hazardous wastes or other wastes, including
after-care of disposal sites.
Illegal Dumping (Verb)
Is the unlawful deposit of waste larger than litter on private or public land where no license or
approval exists to accept such waste.
General Overview
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Corruption is the primary obstacle to establishing better environmental policies in states. Many
less economically developed countries value Gross Domestic Product (GDP, an indicator of economic
growth) over environmental protection. Such countries have no short term incentives to improve their
environment policies because they are more focused on expanding their economy. Also, many agencies
and officials in such countries avoid cracking down on factories that violate these laws too hard as such
actions would decrease employment opportunities. In fact, some countries even set unrealistic goals and
policies to look more progressive in the eyes of the international community but in reality, no company or
individual ever bothers to reach those goals in those countries. In developed nations, many companies
have strong political ties that makes officials vote in favor of weaker environmental policies. The
privatization of the waste industry has stunted opportunities for communities to become more ecofriendly by prioritizing profit over sustainability. Many businesses from more developed nations use
criminal organizations to smuggle waste to less developed countries in order to save the money they
would need to pay to properly dispose the waste.
Developed Countries
The privatization of waste industry has taken a toll on the progress to achieve greener
societies. In America, large corporations like Casella Waste Industries and Waste Management
dominate the waste market. They work hand in hand with waste industry officials to permit
massive expansions of landfills and increase incineration waste tonnage to gain more profit.
However, in many cases, simply recycling and reusing is more than sufficient.
Undeveloped Countries
Many countries prioritize their GDP over environmental protection, especially in the East
and South East Asian regions. China is a notorious example where many officials take bribes or
give light punishments instead of harsh ones to businesses and factories in order to maintain
economic stability. Vietnam, Taiwan and South Korea have fallen victim to multiple cases of
illegal waste smuggling by other countries and corporations which is against international law.
Furthermore, because of these actions, people’s health are suffering from the increase in toxic
chemicals in the environment
Simply unknown
It may be surprising to know that states sometimes simply cannot keep up with the speed at
which companies use new types of chemicals and produce unknown wastes that both the companies
and the state do not know how to handle. Handling methods go from purification, containment, long-term
storage to incineration. Choosing the wrong handling methods could lead to dangerous chemicals being
produced or placed in wrong areas that could poison waterways or the air that which could lead to bad
health and other detrimental environmental effects.
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Progressive development
As in the issue with corruption, money seems to be valued the most highly. Most companies put
profit over environment whenever possible. However, although sometimes companies do not intend to
violate any laws, they still develop too quickly for the government, private institutes and universities to
research the chemicals they use for their industry. This means that the government, private institutes
and universities cannot predict the waste they are going to produce and thus cannot provide proper
waste management mechanisms. Too much of the waste produce is unknown and is then disposed
incorrectly even though companies may be willing to check them and dispose them through legal
methods. This causes all sorts of problems in the drainage and disposal system, which poisons the soil
and causes damage to both humans and the environment.
Timeline of Events
Description of event
22 March 1989
Basel Convention opened for signature
3-14 June 1992
United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED)
22 May 2001
Stockholm Convention
20-22 July 2012
Rio+20 summit
UN Involvement, Relevant Resolutions, Treaties and Events
In the past twenty-five years, the United Nations (UN) has gotten increasingly involved in this
issue. After the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in 1992, countries
recognized the growing production of waste and its harm on the world as a pressing problem. However,
there is still much to be done, because the UN cannot interfere with state policies directly. Therefore, the
UN used multilateral agreements and conventions to expand and address this issue. The Basel
Convention called for restriction of transportation/safe transportation of certain wastes globally while the
Stockholm Convection called for eliminating the usage of persistent organic pollutants. Most
resolutions/conventions listed down below sadly only call for the recognition of this growing issue and
propose basic solutions like recycling, which is clearly not enough.
The future we want (clause 213-233), 27 July 2012 (A/RES/66/288)
Report of the Commission on sustainable development on its second session, 16-27 May 1994
Stockholm Convention, 22 May 2001
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Basel Convention, opened for signature on 22 March 1989, entered force on 5 May 1992
Possible Solutions
There are many aspects to consider in solutions to this issue, ranging from cracking down on
corruption in environment agencies in certain countries all the way to establishing better research
institutes to research the properties of certain wastes and chemicals. As a national report put it,
“chemical substances are being continuously manufactured and used despite the potential for
inadequate technical knowledge on how to properly dispose of them.” If companies and countries can
establish guidelines on testing certain substances before putting it to industrial and commercial use, the
chance of producing an unknown toxic substance will be lowered. Also, the further mechanization of
industries could help lower the total amount of industrial waste produced as it could reduce the chances
of human error while saving companies profit. Another simple yet pressing problem is how to address
the growing cost of disposal costs in all countries. Last but not least, creating motivating and creative
ways for companies, countries, and organization to jointly fund developing research on how to dispose
hazardous waste is also necessary for the world to solve this problem together.
Bolded sources are especially helpful; go check them out!
"United Nations Official Document." UN News Center. UN, n.d. Web. 11 Jan. 2015.
"The Problems with Waste." The Problems with Waste. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Jan. 2015.
"Pollution Issues." Hazardous Waste. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Jan. 2015. <>.
UNEP. Basel Convetion. By Texts And Annexe. Basel: n.p., 1989. Web. 12 Jan. 2015.
"EPA." Persistent Organic Pollutants: A Global Issue, A Global Response. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Jan. 2015.
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Sigman, Hilary. "Midnight Dumping: Public Policies and Illegal Disposal of Used Oil." The RAND Journal
of Economics 29.1 (1998): 157-78. Web. 19 Jan. 2015.
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