7 Central Themes‎ > ‎

Chemicals and the Management of Waste

In Agenda 21, Chemicals and The Management of Waste is one of the seven themes.  It is necessary because the awareness of chemical pollution and chemical management have increased.


Chemicals are important because they can be transferred into various products to assist human’s daily life. However, if the toxic chemicals, their by-products, and their hazardous wastes are poorly handled, they can be harmful for environment and threaten all the lives in the world.


  • Strengthen national and international chemical risk assessment
  • Develop mechanism to increase Collaboration between governments, industry, academia and private organization
  • Develop standardized global hazardous classification and labeling system
  • Design  and adopt safe alternatives
  • Implement “Cradle to Cradle” production
  • Dissemination of risk assessment
  • Continuous monitoring on illegal toxic chemicals
  • Develop network of emergency response centers including poison control center

Actions that we all can take:


  • Prevention and Reduction:
    • Reduction in amounts of hazardous waste produced.
    • Incentives to reduce, and to use recycled goods.
    • Transfer technology, not hazardous waste.
  • Hazardous Waste Management:
    • The Polluter Pays Principle.
    • Public Information and Awareness.
    • Cooperation between government and industry.
  • International Cooperation:
    • Ratification of the Basel and Bamako Conventions.
    • Guidelines for environmentally sound treatment of hazardous waste.
  • Illegal Traffic in Hazardous Waste:
    • Legislation to prevent illegal import and export of hazardous waste.
    • Intentional information and enforcement efforts.

Solid Waste Management

Some tips on reducing waste and conserving resources. The three R's - reduce, reuse and recycle - all help to cut down on the amount of waste we throw away. Also, the three R's save land and money communities must use to dispose of waste in landfills. Everyone can help to save natural resources, energy, and money by following the three R's.

The best way to manage waste is to not produce it and create a legacy of pollution prevention. Teach your children, friends, coworkers, other members of family about the importance of protecting the environment for the health and survival of all living things. Here is a few guidelines by reduce, reuse/recycle, and disposal:


The critical reduce step of waste prevention has been overshadowed by a focus on recycling. Please help to promote a greater awareness of the importance of the "Reduce" part of the Reduce-Reuse-Recycle mantra. For a great overview of how raw materials and products move around the world, see the video The Story of Stuff.

Reduce Purchases: In general, think before you buy any product, do you really need it?

Buy mercury free or low mercury products.

Choose long lasting products to reduce waste.

Using fluorescent lamps instead of incandescent light bulbs is one way to reduce energy use.

Replace Disposables: Wherever possible, replace disposable products with reusable ones such as razor, food storage, batteries, ink cartridges (buy refill ink), coffee filters, furnace or air conditioner filters, etc.

Buy used products whenever possible. Some sources are: Goodwill, Salvation Army, Ebay, Craigslist, Amazon, and garage sales.

Borrow from friends: If you only need something temporarily, ask if a friend or neighbor would loan it to you.

Share things like books, magazines, movies, games, and newspapers between friends and neighbors.

Choose items with the least amount of packaging, or packaging that can be reused or recycled. 

If you only buy a few products skip the shopping bag. For larger purchases, bring your own. Learn about the dangers of plastic bags and what countries around world are doing about it

The media has done a wonderful job of selling us on the attractiveness and benefits of buying "new" and "improved" products. However, we already collectively own so much that we could all survive for quite a while on the existing products if we just reused them a few times!

Shop at and hold garage sales, this is a great way to reuse products.

Switch from disposable to reusable products: food and beverage containers, cups, plates, writing pens, razors, diapers, towels, shopping bags, etc.

Donate your old your household items such as clothes, furniture, dishes, books, sports equipment, magazines, appliances, electronics, business attire, computer equipment, cell phones,ink cartridges, etc.

Buy and sell your items on sites such as: Goodwill, Salvation Army, Ebay, Craigslist, Amazon, and garage sales.

Purchase rechargeable batteries and a battery recharger (some battery rechargers will also recharge regular alkaline batteries). Solar powered battery rechargers are available online.


Kitchen reusable: Instead of buying these items new, save and reuse all: paper bags, rubber bands, twisties, boxes, and packaging material.


Compost leaves and yard clipping, or recycle them through your yard waste recycling. Storm drains carry water and pollutants directly to our local creeks and the Bay.

College Reuse: There are many nonprofit organizations that organize the collection of college students' castoff items usually in the spring, so they can be sold to incoming students in the fall. The proceeds are then donated to nonprofits.

Use both sides of each piece of paper for note taking or printing documents from your computer at home or work. Create note pads by stapling together once used paper.

Buy products that will last and take care of them.


Keep garbage and recycling cans tightly covered to prevent litter from being blown away or scattered by animals.

Clean leaves and trash out of your rain and street gutters.

Storm drains carry water and pollutants directly to our local creeks and the Bay. So, never put anything into the gutter, street or storm drain like motor oil, antifreeze, oil, paint, household cleaners, litter, etc.
For disposal of household products go to

When using a cleaning company, for example carpet cleaners, windows washers, etc, be sure they dispose of wastewater in a utility sink, toilet, sanitary sewer cleanout, or a vegetated area.

Dispose of pet waste in the garbage.

Rinse latex paint tools in a sink, not outdoors.

Drain your pool or spa into a sanitary sewer cleanout or drain to a vegetated area, not into a street or storm drain.

Don't wash tools or dispose of excess materials in the gutter or storm drain.

Never put mercury products in the trash, down the drain, or in the toilet. If you are a resident of Santa Clara County, call 408-299-7300 or visit
www.hhw.org drop off your mercury waste items.

Never put medicines down sinks or toilets.

Bring expired medications to one of the disposal locations in the Bay Area. 

Find a disposal location near you by entering your zip code in the web site www.baywise.org

Radioactive wastes:

They are products created from nuclear power generation, and medical, research, and industry fields. They are dangerous not only because they can damage or kill lives (animals and trees) and pollute environment (soil and water), but they also could have long-lived, which allows them to remain for some decays to thousand years. As a result, the radioactive wastes have to be managed properly, including transportation, storage, and disposal.


From the Agenda 21, it suggests that all nations should minimize and limit themselves to generate radioactive wastes. The nations whoever creates those wastes should provide standard processes/procedures to handle them, and emergency procedures should be given. Training programs are needed to personnel and facilities. The nations should prepare to do long term assessments on health risk and environmental impact, so they can periodically monitor everything around the radioactive wastes. The wastes are strongly recommended not to be stored close to marine environment since they might have impact to marine environment.