This article examines the impact of global and economic pressures on hazardous waste management practices during the 1980s and 1990s and into the twenty-first century. It charts out four sets of recent changes in these practices. These are: first, a shift in the basic regulatory problem, from one of a more local nature to the internationalization of waste management issues; second, changes in the structure of the waste disposal industry worldwide; third, changes in policies regarding hazardous waste in EU member states; and fourth, changes in waste management policies in emerging economies. The article analyzes these changes in the light of the growing involvement of the private sector in international environmental regulation, and of the complex and sometimes contradictory impacts of international regulations on domestic politics. It argues that neither a “race to the bottom” nor a “race to the top” hypothesis fully holds, but that changing public/private and domestic/international balances are a mixed blessing.

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