The European Commission has recently launched a public consultation on the proposed review of the EU Waste Shipment Regulation (WSR) (EU Regulation No 1013/2006).

The current WSR regulates the transboundary movement of waste and establishes a strict control regime for the shipment of waste between EU Member States and non-EU countries, and the transport of waste within the EU, in accordance with international laws (i.e., the Basel Convention).

The review initiative is in accordance with the policy objectives of both the European Green Deal and the new EU Circular Economy Action Plan, which emphasize the need to review the EU rules on the transboundary movement of waste, in particular the export of waste outside of the EU and the movement of waste for recycling or preparation for reuse within the EU. In accordance with the proposed review, the European Commission has identified the need to address the following issues:

  • Supporting and facilitating waste re-use and recycling within the EU and the reduction of “green tape,” in order to emphasize circular economy principles, the waste hierarchy, and the value of waste.
  • Strengthening the enforcement of the Waste Shipment Regulation and the control of the movement of waste to address illegal transboundary movements of waste.
  • Restricting the export of waste that has potentially harmful environmental and health impacts, or that can be treated in the EU, from being exported to non-EU countries.

The WSR is a barrier to achieving proper implementation of the waste hierarchy. Procedural barriers to moving waste can mean that companies chose to dispose of waste rather than ship for reuse. Companies are unable to rely on intra-EU shipment of secondary raw material. The expansion and functioning of the secondary raw materials market is a key element of moving towards a circular economy. There is no provision in the WSR to favor shipment for recycling over other forms of recovery (such as incineration).

An evaluation of the WSR carried out by the Commission earlier in 2020 (available here) noted that stakeholders found there to be a lack of consistent implementation and a lack of harmonization in enforcement across the EU. The public consultation identifies that the simplification and reduction of the administrative burden linked to the WSR is a priority area for consideration.

The WSR currently establishes a framework for those involved in the shipment of waste, its recovery, or its disposal to take steps to ensure that waste is managed in such a way that does not cause harm to human health or the environment. However, the European Commission is concerned with the large volumes of waste exported to non-EU Member States (in particular, non-Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries), where there is insufficient regulation and control, and the risks this presents to human health or the environment in these countries. In order to more effectively regulate such circumstances, the Commission has identified that the restriction of the shipment of waste outside the EU is another priority area for its review of the WSR.

Submissions must be made through the European Commission’s online portal (available hereby July 30, 2020. Targeted interviews will be run by the Commission throughout the coming months, with any amendments intended to be adopted in early 2021.

Further information can be obtained from the European Commission’s Inception Impact Assessment and public consultation page, available here.

Please refer to our separate blog post on the introduction of the EU Circular Economy Action Plan here.