Since the 1980s, the international legal framework governing the management of chemicals and wastes has developed in an ad hoc and piecemeal fashion. As the international community became aware of a problem, the response was to negotiate a treaty to address it. The 2013 Minamata Convention is the latest example. The result is an international legal framework that addresses some substances and some aspects of their management, leaving others unregulated. In today's globalized world, there is a need for a coherent and comprehensive legal framework that reflects the ‘life cycle’ or ‘circular economy’ approach to materials management. Taking into account previous efforts, including the 2006 Strategic Approach to Chemicals Management and the synergies process of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, and considering the approach adopted by the Minamata Convention to regulate the upstream as well as the downstream aspects of the substances it addresses, this article explores ways to achieve a comprehensive and coherent global legal framework on the management of potentially hazardous materials, concluding that the current chemicals and waste regime can serve as a basis for such a framework.