What is this waste?
Unfortunately, the ways most waste shipments are classified don't tell us much about what the waste actually is. Most shipments fall under the UN's category of "Environmentally hazardous substances, solid, n.o.s. (not otherwise specified)." Of these shipments, most are listed by the exporter as "Hazardous waste, solid, n.o.s." To some degree, the picture is obscured by looking at the waste in terms of shipments. By weight or volume, by far vanadium-containing materials are the largest import. Vanadium is a metal leftover from the oilsands mining process. Other materials, like the ethylenes and methanes, are possibly byproducts from downstream refining processes. The fact that importers declare that they are using metals recovery techniques for most shipments (see below) suggests that the "Hazardous waste, solid, n.o.s." is vanadium.