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EU reaches compromise position on proposed ban on waste shipments

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The European Union Council and European Parliament have reached a provisional political agreement on shipments of waste.

For shipments of material outside EU member states, the legislators agreed that waste management facilities at the country of destination will need to be audited by independent bodies. These audits will need to prove that the facilities can treat waste in an environmentally sound manner to allow exports to these.

A register will need to be set up by the European Commission on facilities that have been audited.

On plastics in particular, there will be a ban on exports of non-hazardous plastic waste (B3011) to non-OECD countries as planned. However, non-OECD countries no earlier than five years after the entry into force of the regulation, will be able to submit a request to the Commission indicating their willingness to import EU plastic waste – as long as they fulfil strict waste management standards.

In the case of a positive outcome of the assessment, the Commission will adopt a delegated act to lift the ban for these countries.

For OECD countries, the export of non-hazardous plastic waste will be allowed but will be subject to the ‘PIC’ notification procedure. The European Commission will also need to monitor the export of plastic waste to OECD countries to ensure it is adequately managed in these nations and does not impact on the environment or human health.

Within the European Union, shipments will be subject to the green list procedure.

Spanish acting third vice-president of the government and minister for the ecological transition and the demographic challenge Teresa Ribera Rodríguez said: “Embracing waste as a valuable resource rather than something to dispose of is crucial for our shift to a circular economy.

“Today’s agreement will provide us with the necessary framework to better recover and reuse waste as a secondary material. At the same time, it will help us make sure that the waste we export will not be harmful for the environment and human health. Today’s deal is another important step towards the EU’s zero-pollution and climate-neutrality goals.”