BRUSSELS: The European Commission has announced stricter controls on the export of waste from the EU. The top five EU export waste markets last year were Turkey (13.7 million tonnes); India (2.7 million); UK (1.8 million); Switzerland (1.6 million); and Norway (1.5 million).
Since 2004, EU waste exports have risen 75 percent to reach 32.7 million tonnes annually. In 2018, the global trade in waste was 182 million tonnes valued at €80.5 billion.
Saying the new rules will boost the EU circular economy and ensure its waste stops polluting third countries, Commission EVP Frans Timmermans commented: “You know, it's about time that we learn that trash is cash, rather than a problem. [So] we propose much stricter rules on the export to non-OECD countries, as well as closer monitoring of exports to OECD countries.”
With a view to ensuring landfill and burning are made more difficult and recycling is made easier, the Commission plans:
• Simplified procedures to make it easier for shipments of waste to re-enter the circular economy in the EU, including fully digitalising waste shipment documentation.
• More waste tracking with investigations by Member States on transnational crime linked to waste shipping, supported by the EU Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF).
• Action at the international level to improve waste management and sustainability in the global waste trade.
• Establishing stricter conditions for shipments consigned to landfill or incineration so they are only authorised in limited and well-justified cases.
• Ensuring stricter rules on the export of waste to non-OECD countries and improving monitoring and enforcement to OECD countries.
• Obliging all EU companies that export waste outside the EU to ensure that the facilities receiving their waste are subject to an independent audit.
• Strengthening current rules on administrative penalties against illegal shipments of waste to deter criminals.
“We can't ask for ambitious climate policies from partners on the one hand, and export pollution and support deforestation on the other,” declared Virginijus Sinkevičius, the European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries. “Our waste is our responsibility. Letting waste pollute the environment, end up in illegal dumpsites or in our oceans is a real loss of resources, which are precious for the EU’s transition to a circular economy.”
Sinkevičius added the sector can also expect a new EU-wide “waste shipment enforcement group” to increase cooperation between Customs, police and national inspection authorities; stronger rules on penalties and, before the end of next year, a new proposal to revise the Environmental Crime Directive to encourage Member States introduce “a more robust penal framework”.
Story Type: News