The European Commission has adopted new rules The Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius, said: These new rules send a clear message that we in the EU take responsibility for the waste we generate. The export of plastic waste will only be allowed under very strict conditions. The export of undead plastic waste to non-OECD countries will be completely prohibited. This is an important step in the fight against plastic pollution, in the transition to a circular economy and in achieving the objectives of the European Green Deal.
Over the past decade, the uncontrolled trade in plastic waste has increased, damaging both the environment and public health. Plastic waste ended up in landfills, burned in the open air or thrown into the ocean. The new rules should put an end to the export of plastic waste to third countries that often do not have the capacity and standards to manage it in a sustainable way. This is also a key commitment of the European Green Deal The new rules will take effect on January 1, 2021. They apply to intra-EU exports, imports and shipments of plastic waste:
Exports from the EU :
– The export of hazardous plastic waste and hard-to-recycle plastic waste from the EU to non-OECD countries will be prohibited.
– The export of clean and non-hazardous waste (for recycling) from the EU to non-OECD countries will only be authorised under specific conditions. The importing country must indicate to the European Commission what rules apply to such imports. Export from the EU will therefore only be permitted under the conditions laid down by the importing country. For countries that do not provide information on their legal regime, the ‘prior notification and consent procedure’ will apply.
– The export of hazardous plastic waste and hard-to-recycle plastic waste from the EU to OECD countries will be subject to the ‘prior notification and authorisation procedure’. Under this procedure, both the importing and exporting countries must authorise the shipment.
Imports into the EU :
– The import of hazardous plastic waste and hard-to-recycle plastic waste into the EU from third countries will be subject to the ‘prior notification and authorisation procedure’. Under this procedure, both the importing and exporting countries must authorise the shipment.
Intra-EU shipments :
– The ‘prior notification and consent procedure’ will also apply to intra-EU shipments of hazardous plastic waste and non-hazardous plastic waste that are difficult to recycle. All intra-EU shipments of non-hazardous waste for recovery will be exempt from these new controls.
These new rules will amend the EU Waste Shipments Regulation (Regulation (EC) No 1013/2006, and implement the decision taken by 187 countries may 2019 at the 14th Conference of the Parties to the Basle Convention. This decision established for the first time a global regime governing international trade in plastic waste, including new items on plastic waste in the Annexes to the Convention. This shows that multilateral institutions are taking more and more binding action against plastic pollution. By banning the export outside the OECD of plastic waste that is difficult to recycle, the EU is actually going beyond the requirements of the Basle Convention.
In 2019, the EU exported 1.5 million tonnes of plastic waste, mainly to Turkey and Asian countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, India and China. The share of plastic waste exported to China has fallen dramatically since the country adopted restrictions on the import of plastic waste in 2018.