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.
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.
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.
- Waste Shipments Regulation
- Waste Shipments Regulation (consolidated version)
- Regulation concerning the export for recovery of certain waste to certain countries to which the OECD Decision on the control of transboundary movements of waste does not apply
- Implementing act setting out a preliminary correlation table between customs and waste codes – to help customs officials identify potential waste streams.
- Delegated regulation on plastic waste shipments
The Commission has also published frequently asked questions about the Waste Shipments Regulation.
- Summary of the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal
- Basel Convention webpage
- OECD database of Transboundary Movements of Wastes destined for recovery operations which contains inter alia relevant information on pre-consented facilities
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.
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.
Every 3 years, the Commission must report on the implementation of the waste shipment regulation
- 2013 – 2015: Implementation report and staff working document
- 2010- 2012: Implementation report and staff working document
- 2007-2009: Implementation report and staff working document part 1 and part 2
- 2001-2006: Implementation report and staff working document
- 1997-2000: Implementation report and staff working document
The following information has been provided by Member States on national practices.
Waste shipment correspondents
The Waste Shipment Regulation requires EU Member States and the Commission to nominate correspondents who disseminate advice and information.
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:
- AT / Lebensministerium (Ministry of the Environment)
- BE / Flanders
- BE / Wallonie
- BE / Brussels
- DE / BMU (Federal Ministry of the Environment)
- UBA (Federal Environmental Agency)
- DK / Miljøstyrelsen (Danish Environmental Protection Agency)
- EE/ Estonian Ministry of the Environment (keskkonnaamet)
- FI / Finnish Environment Institute
- FR / Ministère de l'Ecologie et du Développement durable
- IE / EPA
- NL / Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment)
- SE / Naturvardsverket (Swedish Environmental Protection Agency)
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
Following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, the Commission has published a Brexit Readiness Notice for Waste Shipments.
For the latest statistics on waste shipments, visit Eurostat.
Key dates related to the Waste Shipments Regulation
- 01 January 2021EU rules on plastic waste shipments enter into force
- 11 March 2020Inception Impact Assessment on the evaluation of the Waste Shipment Regulation published
- 31 January 2020Commission Staff Working Document on the evaluation of Waste Shipment Regulation published
- 14 June 2006Waste Shipment Directive enters into force
- Final report - Electronic Data Exchange for Waste Shipment Regulation – reporting package, domain objects and web service definition
- Feasibility Study for the establishment of an Electronic Data Interchange for Waste Shipments, project charter, architecture overview, analysis of stakeholder responses and review of IT systems
- Final report - Experience gained with the helpdesk for questions related to the Waste Shipment regulation
- Annex VII and Articles 18 and 49-50 of the Waste Shipment Regulation, reports on implementation, enforcement and national provisions and on problems, solutions and impact,
- Final report - Current implementation of financial guarantees and equivalent insurance in all Member States, including an impact analysis
- Final report - Possible requirements and criteria for waste shipment inspections, controls and on-the-spot checks
- Awareness-raising events on the application and enforcement of Community legislation on shipments of waste, December 2009 and November 2008 reports
- Final report - Inspection requirements for waste shipments
- Final report - Study on Annex IIIA of the EU Waste Shipment Regulation
- Final report - Transboundary shipments of waste in the EU. Developments 1995-2005 and possible drivers
For information about EU rules on waste shipments, please contact our functional mailbox.