Council unanimously endorses revised Waste Shipment regulation

Yesterday, the Council of the European Union unanimously agreed to address the harmful practice of the EU’s waste trade, including plastic waste, by fully endorsing the revised Waste Shipment Regulation.

The final text is expected to be published in the Official Journal in April, and the Regulation will then enter into force 20 days after publication.
The Rethink Plastic alliance and Break Free From Plastic welcome the Parliament and Council’s decision to endorse the revised text negotiated at Trilogue, which includes increased obligations and standards regarding the shipment of EU plastic waste.

This includes:

  • A phased-in 2.5 year ban of all plastic waste exports to non-OECD countries, to complement existing bans on the export of hazardous and Y48 plastic waste
  • Increased obligations and standards, both regarding exporting waste to non-OECD and OECD countries
  • That intra-EU shipments of waste destined for disposal will only occur under exceptional circumstances
  • The digitisation of the exchange of information and data on waste shipments

Whilst the Rethink Plastic alliance and Break Free From Plastic movement have always evidenced the need for and advocated for a full ban of EU plastic waste outside the EU and EFTA, amongst other recommendations, the agreed trilogue text does set in motion increased protections and obligations for environmentally-sound management. It is now for the Commission and Member States to take all steps necessary to ensure effective transposition, implementation and enforcement.
Regrettably, last year’s trilogue negotiations between the EU institutions did not result in a decision to stop exporting its plastic waste to all non-EU/ EFTA countries. For example, Türkiye (an OECD country) receives a significant amount of EU plastic waste – despite clear evidence of this resulting in environmental and human health harm. We strongly encourage that the necessary resources are set aside to ensure obligations are being met by all, and if not met, that the EU suspends exports to relevant recipient OECD countries also.

The EU’s revised Waste Shipment Regulation now forms some of the most ambitious waste exporting rules in the world. The EU must work to amplify this success, by reducing its plastic consumption and ensuring strict adherence to the waste hierarchy in managing its plastic waste.


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