Waste shipments: Report shows increase in quantity and more detections of illegal shipments
Today the European Commission published the implementation report of the Waste Shipment Regulation for 2016 to 2019, a key document for the supervision and control of shipments of waste both within EU borders, and with third countries. The report reveals two major trends. Firstly, although the amount of notified waste remained stable throughout the reporting period, the total amount of hazardous waste shipped both within and outside of the EU more than doubled from 3.9 million tonnes in 2001 to 8.1 million tonnes in 2019. Indeed the large majority of these shipment take place within the EU, and the limited volume exported from the EU to third countries is going to OECD countries. Secondly, the amounts of illegal shipments that are detected by Member States’ inspections is increasing.
The findings in this implementation report align with the conclusions of the evaluation of the current Regulation, that the Commission published in January 2020 and that led to the Commission proposal to revise the current rules on waste shipments. This proposal was tabled in November 2021 with three goals: ensuring that the EU does not export its waste challenges to third countries; making it easier to transport waste for recycling and reuse in the EU; and better tackling illegal waste shipments. with three goals: ensuring that the EU does not export its waste challenges to third countries; making it easier to transport waste for recycling and reuse in the EU; and better tackling illegal waste shipments.
Under the new rules, waste exports to non-OECD countries will be restricted and only allowed if third countries are willing to receive certain wastes and are able to manage them sustainably. Waste shipments to OECD countries will be monitored and can be suspended if they generate serious environmental problems in the country of destination. All EU companies that export waste outside the EU should ensure that the facilities receiving their waste are subject to an independent audit showing that they manage this waste in an environmentally sound manner.
Within the EU, the aim is to simplify the established procedures considerably, facilitating waste to re-enter the circular economy, without lowering the necessary level of control. This helps to reduce the EU’s dependence on primary raw materials and supports innovation and the decarbonisation of EU industry to meet the EU’s climate objectives. The new rules are also bringing waste shipments to the digital era by introducing electronic exchange of documentation.
A new proposal could open up new business opportunities and expand domestic markets, forcing industry players to upgrade their sorting and treatment capabilities to meet the demands of a green, circular economy.
The proposal is currently under discussion in the European Parliament and the Council.
“Notified” waste is waste subject to a specific procedure for import and export, for both shipments between EU Member States and shipments between one EU Member State and a third country. It covers specific types of waste which need particular scrutiny (such as hazardous waste or mixed municipal waste). It can only be shipped if both countries agree to this shipment, based on information that the traders has to “notify” to both of them.
The European Union as well as all its Member States are Party to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal of 22 March 1989 (“the Convention”). The Convention serves to protect human health and the environment against the adverse effects of hazardous wastes.
Each calendar year, every Member State submits a report on the implementation of the Basel Convention on the previous calendar year to the Convention Secretariat. A copy of this report is also sent to the Commission, along with additional information as required via Annex IX of the Waste Shipment Regulation (EC) 1013/2006. These reports include data on waste shipments and national implementation through policy and enforcement.
Every three years, the Commission draws up an implementation report based on these reports. This is the sixth implementation report covering the period 2016–2019; this four-annual report is an exception to the usual three-year reporting schedule.
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