Environmental Rights

Waste is disposed of and handled unlawfully and/or improperly


Mismanagement of hazardous waste can lead to environmental degradation and pollution.


Exposure to hazardous waste can have disastrous effects on the life, health, well-being, dignity and prosperity of a community. It often affects the most vulnerable populations including people living in poverty, Indigenous Peoples, workers, migrants, minorities and children. Pollution is the largest source of premature death in the developing world.


There are a number of international conventions which regulate the management of waste, including: the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal; the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants; and the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade. These international conventions share the common objective of protecting human health and the environment from hazardous chemicals and wastes.


Businesses whose waste management practices are harmful to the health of people may violate the human right to a healthy environment and access to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation, as well as many other human rights, including the right to life, the rights to food, water, sanitation and health, and the rights of the child. Businesses must ensure they have effective policies and procedures for handling and disposing of waste generated by their activities in a manner compliant with applicable international instruments and national laws.

Relevant Human Rights Instruments

Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 1966
Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989



SDG 6.3

Businesses that dispose of and handle waste lawfully and properly may contribute to SDG 6.3: By 2030, improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally.

SDG 12


SDG 12.4

Businesses that properly deal with waste may also contribute to SDG 12.4: By 2020, achieve the environmentally sound management of chemicals and all wastes throughout their life cycle, in accordance with agreed international frameworks, and significantly reduce their release to air, water and soil to minimize their adverse impacts on human health and the environment.