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EU Commission proposes structural changes to Waste Shipment Regulation

View of the conference room where the EU Commission held its "college meeting" on 17 November.
The EU Commission proposed wide-ranging changes to
waste shipment legislation at its 17 November meeting.
17.11.2021 − 

The European Commission wants to make waste shipments for recovery within the EU less complicated, but make exports to non-OECD countries conditional upon an official request. Under the legislative proposal put forward today, countries outside the OECD will have to address an official request to the EU Commission stipulating that they wish to import green-list waste for recovery from the EU and specifying which waste types are covered by the request. They will also have to demonstrate that conditions are in place to ensure that the wastes are treated in an environmentally sound manner at their destination.

On the basis of these requests, the EU Commission plans to establish a list of countries to which the export of green-list wastes is authorised. Shipments to countries which are not included in that list are to be banned.

EU exports to OECD countries to be suspended "if they generate serious environmental problems"

Waste shipments from the EU to other OECD countries are to be monitored and "can be suspended if they generate serious environmental problems in the country of destination", according to the Commission. All EU companies that export waste to countries outside the Union are to "ensure that the facilities receiving their waste are subject to an independent audit showing that they manage this waste in an environmentally sound manner".

The European Commission proposes a transition period of three years between the new Regulation's entry into force and its application. This is to leave "sufficient time for preparing to direct waste streams to more sustainable treatment" und build additional capacities in the EU. The impact assessment has shown that "there should be no major challenges for EU industry to process additional quantities of ferrous metal, non-ferrous metals and paper", according to the Commission's "questions and answers" document accompanying the proposal. The steel, aluminium, copper, and paper industries are already "recycling substantial volumes and have the capacity to deal with additional quantities within the EU. Many industries are also planning investments to increase the uptake of waste in their production processes, which is a key feature of their decarbonisation strategy".

At the same time, the Commission aims to facilitate the trade in waste for recycling and reuse within the European Union to strengthen the circular economy. Its proposal is to bring about the "full digitalisation of all procedures governing the shipments of waste between EU member states", in particular for green-listed waste. New provisions are to support the use of fast-track procedures for shipments to "pre-consented" recovery facilities, while harmonised classification of waste at the EU level is to "help overcome the current fragmentation of the EU market", according to the Commission.

EU ban on recovered paper exports to India to be corrected  − next