Plastics value chain calls for free movement of waste in the EU

waste exports

Circular plastics transition requires “urgent simplification” of EU waste shipment rules, says Plastics Europe.

Plastics Europe is calling for the Waste Shipment Regulation to be revised to support the EU’s 2050 circularity and net-zero targets.

Current waste shipment rules hinder recycling plastic waste, resulting in too much waste being sent to landfill and incineration.

The EU Waste Shipment Regulation deals with the shipment of waste inside and outside of Europe. Plastics Europe says it is currently “very burdensome” to transport waste intra EU because of the “complex rules”, which it says in extreme cases result in companies not receiving approval for shipments for up to four years.

It says hindrances to waste shipment across the EU reduce the amount of input into recycling facilities and consequently the availability of recycled plastics for the plastics value chain and discourage further investment in recycling infrastructure and innovative new technologies, such as chemical recycling.

We urgently need access to as much recycled, high-quality plastic waste as possible to build a circular economy

The revised Article 14 should aim to keep waste in the EU by harmonising administrative measures and speeding up the so-called “pre-consent” procedure, which it says would allow plastic waste to be shipped swiftly to compliant facilities for recycling.

Plastics Europe says in this way, the European recycling market will be prioritised, waste will be treated in an environmentally sound way and the transition to a circular plastics economy accelerated.

Virginia Janssens, Managing Director of Plastics Europe said: “We urgently need access to as much recycled, high-quality plastic waste as possible to build a circular economy.

“We must avoid the absurd situation in which waste processing facilities only use waste from their own domestic markets, or indeed have to wait years for the approval of waste shipments from other EU member states. An EU Single Market for waste needs to be guaranteed.”

Earlier this year, Plastics Europe launched “ReShaping Plastics: Pathways to a Circular, Climate Neutral Plastics System in Europe”, an independent report analysing the European plastics industry’s best transition pathways and levers towards net zero by 2050.

The report suggests the need for faster systemic change and that circularity is a key driver of system emissions reduction in the short to medium term.

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