The European Union’s executive branch announced new rules for plastic waste shipments—including a ban on some exports to poorer countries—that will take effect on January 1 as part of the bloc’s Circular Economy Action Plan and European Green Deal.
The moves follow China’s 2018 ban on plastic imports and statements from environmentalists that waste was ending up in other Asian nations, such as Malaysia, and then being dumped into ocean waters. Sinkevicius, a former Lithuanian economy minister, said even inside the 37-nation Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) any EU exports of hazardous plastic waste deemed “hard to recycle” would require prior authorization from both the recipient and dispatching nation.
The changes to the bloc’s 2006 Waste Shipment Regulation will apply to exports, imports, and intra-E.U. shipments of plastic waste, according to a statement from the European Commission. Various shipments to and from the E.U.’s 27 member states will be subjected to a “prior notification and consent procedure.” Starting next year, bloc members may no longer export plastic waste that is hazardous or hard to recycle to nations that are not a part of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and the export of clean, non-hazardous waste to non-OECD countries will only be allowed under certain conditions laid out by the importer.
? Milestone in the fight against #PlasticPollution
NEW ?? rules on importing & exporting plastic waste, to
boost ♻️ & #CircularEconomy on a global scale
— EU Environment (@EU_ENV) December 22, 2020
The large quantity of plastic sent to the Global South is often not being properly treated. A lot of this waste ends up either in landfill, the ocean, or being incinerated because these countries often don’t have the capacity to sustainably treat the waste, euronews states.
“These new rules send a clear message that in the E.U. we are taking responsibility for the waste we generate. This is an important milestone in fighting plastic pollution, transitioning shifting to a circular economy, and achieving the aims of the European Green Deal,” says Virginijus Sinkevičius, commissioner for environment, oceans, and fisheries.
“Approximately 6.3 billion tons of plastic waste have been generated since 1950, of which 12 percent has been incinerated, less than 10 percent recycled and nearly 80 percent either discarded or landfilled,” says Sinkevicius.