New rules on plastic waste shipments

March 2nd, 2021

The European Commission has established new rules for the cross-border trade of plastic waste. Shortly before Christmas, it adopted a corresponding delegated regulation to amend the Waste Shipment Regulation. The new rules are intended to combat plastic pollution and facilitate the transition to a circular economy.

The most important changes are:

  • The export of hazardous or difficult-to-recycle plastic waste to non-OECD countries is prohibited. All other plastic waste may only be exported if it is destined for recycling and if the conditions set by the importing country are met.
  • The export of hazardous or difficult-to-recycle plastic waste to OECD countries is subject to prior written notification and consent.
  • The latter also applies to the import of hazardous or difficult-to-recycle plastic waste into the European Union and to its shipment within the European Union.

The new rules, which came into force on 1 January 2021, implement a decision of the Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention taken by 187 countries in May 2019. The delegated regulation can be downloaded from the Commission’s website.

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