Negotiators from the Council and the European Parliament have reached a provisional political agreement to overhaul regulations governing waste shipments. The revised regulation is geared towards curbing problematic waste exports beyond the EU, aligning shipment procedures with circular economy objectives, and bolstering enforcement measures.
The regulation’s scope expands to encompass climate neutrality and circular economy goals. It expressly prohibits intra-EU waste shipments for disposal, allowing exceptions only under stringent conditions. Intra-EU shipments for recovery operations necessitate prior written notification and consent (‘PIC’), with a specific derogation for laboratory analysis waste weighing under 250 kg. Under the ‘PIC’ procedure, exporters within the EU must notify and receive confirmation from relevant countries before export. A central electronic system streamlines document submission and exchange, with agreed-upon timelines to ensure efficiency.
The regulation maintains the prohibition of waste disposal exports to third countries and the export of hazardous waste for recovery in non-OECD countries. It introduces mandatory audits of waste management facilities in destination countries by independent bodies. A register of audited facilities will be established by the Commission to assist waste exporters.
Exports of plastic waste
Stringent rules are introduced for exporting non-hazardous plastic waste (B3011) to non-OECD countries. Non-OECD countries may request the importation of EU plastic waste, subject to strict standards, with the Commission empowered to lift the export ban for compliant countries. Export of non-hazardous plastic waste to OECD countries is allowed, contingent on the ‘PIC’ notification procedure. The Commission is tasked with rigorous monitoring to prevent adverse environmental and health impacts.
Member states are urged to establish dissuasive penalties for regulation infringements, including fines and the revocation or temporary suspension of relevant authorisations. Effective cooperation mechanisms at national and international levels are mandated, with the establishment of a waste shipment enforcement group to enhance collaboration between member states.
The provisional agreement will be submitted to the Council’s representatives and the Parliament’s environment committee for endorsement. Formal adoption by both institutions, following legal-linguistic revision, is required before publication in the EU’s Official Journal.
The waste shipment regulation aligns with the Basel Convention and OECD decisions. Initially adopted in 2006, the regulation faced challenges, leading to a notable increase in waste exports. The Commission’s proposal to update the regulation was set in motion in November 2021, with the European Parliament and Council positions established in January and March 2023, respectively.