EU to ban exports of plastic waste to non-OECD countries


The European Commission and European Council have agreed to ban exports of plastic waste to non-OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries.

The Commission says it welcomes the political agreement reached on waste shipments, which will prohibit the export of plastic waste from the EU to non-OECD countries. After five years, non-OECD countries can receive plastic waste exports if “strict environmental conditions” are met.

Under the new rules, other waste suitable for recycling can only be exported from the EU to non-OECD countries when they ensure that they can deal with it sustainably. The regulations are part of EU legislators’ aim to prevent environmental degradation and pollution in third countries caused by plastic waste generated in the EU, the Commission says.

The Commission says the rules will also facilitate the use of waste as a resource and the agreement contributes to the goal of the European Green Deal of reducing pollution and advancing the circular economy.

Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, commented: “The agreement reached today by the two institutions shows our joint commitment to take responsibility for our waste challenges, rather than exporting our problems abroad.

Once in force, the new rules will ensure that waste is shipped for use as a resource.

“Once in force, the new rules will ensure that waste is shipped for use as a resource, increasing the security of supply of raw materials for industry. Businesses and national authorities will benefit from more efficient and digitalised procedures. We will also step up EU’s response against waste trafficking, combating one of the most harmful environmental crimes.”

The Commission says it will also monitor waste exports to OECD countries and take action if they’re creating environmental problems. All EU companies that export waste outside the EU must ensure that the facilities receiving their waste are subject to an independent audit that demonstrates they’re managing the waste in an “environmentally sound manner” under the rules.

The circulation of waste for recycling and reuse between Member States is key for the EU’s transition to a circular economy and the security of the supply of raw materials, the Commission says.

The European Parliament and the Council will now have to formally adopt the regulation in line with the political agreement reached. Once formally adopted, the regulation will enter into force 20 days after it is published in the Official Journal.

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