Proposal European Commission New Waste Shipment Regulation

The new Waste Shipment Regulation has 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.

This will ensure that the EU does not export its pollution abroad and  waste is treated in a sustainable way, within and outside the EU, while supporting the move to an innovative circular economy. The proposed measures will impose high standards for waste management in third countries importing waste from the EU, which can bring environmental and economic benefits for these countries. These measures will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to meeting climate targets, as they will encourage the uptake of recycled materials in the EU, which have a much lower carbon footprint than primary raw materials (such as coal, iron ore, bauxite, pulp, and oil) currently used by EU industry.  

A major reason for EU dependence on exports of some waste is that the EU generates too much waste. This proposal on waste shipments fits together with the overall EU objective in the European Green Deal to reduce the generation of waste. In the coming months, the Commission will propose additional new rules to achieve this objective, including regulating the design of packaging and other products to ensure that they do not result in waste that is impossible to re-use or recycle.

What are the main measures of the proposal on the export of waste?

To ensure that the export of waste from the EU to third countries is managed sustainably, the following measures are proposed:

  • For countries that are not members of the OECD, exports of waste from the EU would be made conditional on an official request from the country to import non-hazardous waste from the EU and demonstration that it can recover it in a sound manner. A list of countries authorised to import waste from the EU will be set up.
  • The Commission will monitor the levels of waste exports from the EU to OECD countries. If there is a surge in waste exports to one of these countries, risking serious environmental or public health problems in that country, the Commission will seek information on the treatment of this waste in the country concerned. The Commission will suspend export of this waste if there is no guarantee that this treatment is sustainable.
  • EU exporting companies would have to carry out independent audits for their waste exports outside the EU. These audits should demonstrate that the facilities treat this waste in an environmentally sound manner. EU companies would only be authorised to export to these facilities if this is the case.
  • To address waste being illegally presented as “used goods”, specific binding criteria will be developed to differentiate between waste and used goods for specific commodities of a particular concern, such as used vehicles and batteries.