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Environment
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Waste shipments

EU rules on transporting waste within and beyond EU borders, to protect the environment and public health.

Waste shipments
© primeimages / Getty Images

Main law: Waste Shipments Regulation

Entry into force: 14 June 2006

Connected topics: Circular economy Plastic waste shipments Trade and waste shipment Waste and recycling

Connected strategies: Circular economy action plan

Connected Commission priorities: European Green Deal

Overview

Economic growth and globalisation have led to a worldwide increase of waste transport across borders, by road, rail and boat.

The EU has a system to supervise and control shipments of waste within its borders, and with countries that have signed the Basel Convention. The EU has also introduced rules on the export, import and intra-EU shipment of plastic waste. 

The EU is currently reviewing its waste shipment rules.

Background 

Waste contains valuable secondary raw materials. Trading waste can have a positive impact on the economy, but the uncontrolled movement of toxic waste can have disastrous environmental consequences, such as the Seveso disaster in France in 1982. Toxic waste from Europe has also been exported and dumped in developing countries on several occasions. 

EU law on the shipment of waste includes rules for transporting waste across borders. It implements the obligations of the Basel Convention (1989) on the control of transboundary movements of hazardous wastes and their disposal. It also further transposes the provisions of the OECD decision (2001) establishing a control system for waste shipments for recovery within the OECD area.

Under EU waste shipment law, shipments of hazardous waste and waste destined for disposal are prohibited to non-OECD countries outside the EU. For shipments to OECD countries, they are generally subject to the prior notification and consent procedure which requires the prior written consent of all relevant authorities of dispatch, transit and destination. To speed up the procedure, Member States can designate 'pre-consented recovery facilities' (see OECD list) for which more lenient procedures apply and for which they will normally not raise objections as competent authority of destination.

Shipments of “green-listed” non-hazardous wastes within the EU and OECD do not usually require the prior consent of the authorities, but information requirements apply.

Waste shipment controls are carried out by national competent authorities and inspection services, and custom offices.

Objectives

The main aims of EU rules on waste shipments are environmental protection, and to reduce the risks to human health.

Furthermore, they aim to establish greater legal clarity and pursue harmonisation in the area of transboundary shipments of waste.

Law

The Commission has also published frequently asked questions about the Waste Shipments Regulation.

International Law 

Review of the Waste Shipment Regulation

The Commission is currently assessing options to review the Waste Shipment Regulation. The review process will continue until Spring 2021.

First, an evaluation was carried out. The Commission Staff Working Document on the evaluation was adopted on 30 January 2020. The Executive Summary of this report is available: EN FR DE

The consultation synopsis report is available in all EU languages.EN BG CS DA DE ET EL ES FR HR IT LT LV HU MT NL PL PT RO SK SL FI SV

The Commission is now looking into options to address the challenges identified in the evaluation report.

The inception impact assessment was published on 11 March 2020 and stakeholders were invited to give feedback.

A study to support this review process was launched in January 2020 to last for 10 months. This study will include a wide stakeholder consultation exercise, including a public consultation that ran until 30 July 2020 and the outcomes of a stakeholder workshop that was held 23-24 September 2020.

Implementation

Every 3 years, the Commission must report on the implementation of the waste shipment regulation

The following information has been provided by Member States on national practices.

Method of calculation for the financial guarantee and equivalent insurance
English
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Languages accepted by competent authorities for documents related to the procedure of prior written notification and consent
English
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Tacit or written consent of the competent authority of transit
English
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Threshold values for contaminants in green-listed wastes
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Acceptance of waste carrier registrations in waste shipments among EU Member States (and EEA countries)
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Waste shipment correspondents 

The Waste Shipment Regulation requires EU Member States and the Commission to nominate correspondents who disseminate advice and information. 

Minutes of their meetings are publicly available

List of waste shipment correspondents
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Rules of procedure - correspondent meetings
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Guidelines 

These Correspondents' Guidelines have been agreed by the waste shipment correspondents of EU Member States. They represent their common understanding of how the Waste Shipments Regulation should be interpreted but they are not legally binding.

Read all correspondent guidelines. 

Several Member States have published guidance documents for the implementation of the Waste Shipment Regulation:

The transfrontier shipment of waste is a key focus of IMPEL, the EU network for the Implementation and Enforcement of Environmental Law. See IMPEL’s guidance on waste shipment inspection planning.

Covid-19 

The following documents contain key information related to waste shipments and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Shipments of waste in the EU in the context of the coronavirus crisis - Available in several EU languages

COVID19 - waste shipments – specific information from competent authorities in Member States
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COVID19 - Specific contact details of waste shipment competent authorities in Member States
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Brexit

Following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, the Commission has published a Brexit Readiness Notice for Waste Shipments

Statistics

For the latest statistics on waste shipments, visit Eurostat.

Timeline

Key dates related to the Waste Shipments Regulation

  1. 01 January 2021
    EU rules on plastic waste shipments enter into force
  2. 11 March 2020
    Inception Impact Assessment on the evaluation of the Waste Shipment Regulation published
  3. 31 January 2020
    Commission Staff Working Document on the evaluation of Waste Shipment Regulation published
  4. 14 June 2006
    Waste Shipment Directive enters into force

Publications

Contact

For information about EU rules on waste shipments, please contact our functional mailbox.

 

List of waste shipment correspondents
English
(754.26 KB - PDF)
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List of competent authorities
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List of custom offices
English
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