The UK plan for shipments of waste (the Plan) has been amended, with the key update being to emphasise that interim disposal operations should be carried out in the UK wherever possible.

Earlier this year Defra consulted on various amendments to the Plan for shipments of waste and those amendments have now been adopted following a public consultation.

The government specified that they were proposing four main updates to the Plan:

  • align the UK Plan with the government’s NORM (naturally occurring radioactive material)waste strategy by allowing imports of NORM waste of UK origin for disposal, and restricting other shipments of NORM waste for disposal.
  • clarify that interim disposal operations should be carried out within the UK where possible.
  • remove the existing exception relating to export of contaminated river sediment waste for disposal.
  • insert a new exception relating to export of mercury and mercury-contaminated wastes for disposal.

Certain amendments were also made in the light of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

A key change is the amendments for interim disposal operations. Where someone proposes to export waste for biological or physico-chemical treatment operation (D8/D9) or interim disposal operations this will only be permissible if such treatment results in final compounds, (which are disposed on a manner that is in accordance with the exceptions set out in the Plan) and in the case of proposed exports from the UK there are no suitable UK facilities that can provide these interim disposal operations.

This second point has been added in the revision. The responses to the consultation were broadly positive on this point, although it was noted that the UK would need to have sufficient capacity to conduct such interim operations.

The EU opened a review and public consultation on the Waste Shipment Regulation 1013/2006 in 2020, intended to facilitate recycling within the EU and make it more difficult to export waste to third countries (those outside the EU and not part of the OECD Decisions). The outcome of this review has been delayed.