Policy Principles
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Basel Action Network
Policy Principles

June 2008
  1. Fundamental Right to a Healthy Environment: We believe in the fundamental right of all species to a clean and healthy environment.

  2. Sustainability and Justice in Production and Consumption: We promote the development of production systems and consumption patterns that are environmentally sustainable and socially just.

  3. Principle of Earth Economics: We believe in an economic system that is subservient to social and environmental welfare -- one that is not only economically efficient, but environmentally sustainable and socially just.

  4. Corporate Social Responsibility: Corporations are beholden to and must be accountable to the societies in which they conduct business. They serve the public interest as well as the interest of shareholders and investors. They must conduct themselves in a manner that demonstrates responsibility beyond legislative requirements and proactively assures sustainability and social justice, as well as profitability. Corporate owners and officers must be liable for harm caused.

  5. Precautionary Principle: The lack of certainty regarding a threat to human health and the environment can not be used as an excuse to do nothing to avert that threat. In the absence of scientific consensus or proof, the burden of proof falls on those who would advocate taking the action.

  6. Principle of Environmental Justice: We believe that no peoples should bear a disproportionate burden from environmental harm simply due to racial, ethnic, or socio-economic status.

  7. Principle of Environmental Democracy: We support the “right-to-know”, full transparency, and access for non-governmental organizations and individuals to information and meetings of governments and inter-governmental bodies as they relate to human health and the environment.

  8. Full Safety Data Required of all Chemicals: No chemical or material should be introduced into the marketplace without full testing and disclosure of relative safety and harm, both acute and chronic.

  9. Right to Design: We believe the public has the right to be a part of decisions on product and technology design that will impact them and the shared environment.

  10. Waste Prevention Principle: Once produced, wastes and in particular hazardous wastes can never be managed completely without risk of harm. Prevention is always better than later management or mitigation. The best solution to hazardous waste and pollution is not creating it (both the quantity and the harm) in the first place.

  11. Substitution Principle and Elimination of Toxic Substances: All decisions regarding the use of hazardous materials should be informed by a constant review of safer alternatives and a responsibility to replace more hazardous substances with less hazardous ones. We advocate for elimination of the use of toxic substances and technologies in product and process design.

  12. Principle of Internalizing Costs: We believe that all environmental costs and liabilities associated with pollution and toxic products are the financial responsibility of the creator of the toxic harm. The “polluter pays principle” must be comprehensive enough to include hidden costs and other “externalities” not presently accounted for.

  13. Environmentally Sound Management (ESM) Systems Cannot Justify Toxic Trade: ESM systems and related technologies and processes are not comprehensive solutions to hazardous wastes. The existence of even best-practice ESM facilities does not justify moving hazardous waste processing to developing countries from developed countries. Factors equally important to human and environmental safety are the “on the ground” realities, such as the overall political, legal, medical, infrastructure, workforce and economic contexts in which these facilities operate.

  14. Trade Barriers to Prevent Toxic Waste Dumping Are Necessary: Waste should not be allowed to move across borders for economic reasons to take advantage of cost externalities. Purely economic motivations result in toxic waste flowing to the poorest countries with the least protections. As toxic waste management can never be 100% safe or without externalized costs, it is inherently unjust to burden poor countries with wastes from the developed world. International trade barriers to this free flow of toxic waste are warranted and must be respected and strengthened.

  15. Principle of National Self-Sufficiency in Hazardous Waste Management: Hazardous wastes should be managed domestically to the extent possible. All developed countries should have full capacity to manage their own hazardous wastes.

  16. Unnecessary Consumption and Planned Obsolescence: Current rates of consumption of materials and energy are neither sustainable nor equitable. Incentives to reduce consumption and make consumption rates more equitable must be found.

  17. Waste Management Hierarchy: A best-practice waste management hierarchy is as follows:

    1. Prevention (of both hazards and volumes),
    2. Re-use,
    3. Materials recovery,
    4. Treatment and mitigation (to make less hazardous), and
    5. Contained and monitored disposal (not incineration).

  18. Recycling is an Incomplete Solution to Waste: Recycling is an imperfect and temporary solution to the production and consumption of wastes and in particular hazardous wastes. We must work toward waste prevention and eliminating the production and usage of toxic products, wastes and technologies.

  19. Immediate Action to Protect Communities and Workers: When communities and workers are exposed to levels of chemicals that pose a health hazard, immediate action is necessary to eliminate these exposures.

  20. The Right to a Healthy and Safe Job: All laborers have a fundamental human right to a healthy and safe job and workplace.
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