Proposal for a Regulation on shipments of waste and amending Regulations (EU) No 1257/2013 and (EU) No 2020/1056

Author (Corporate)
Series Details COM (2021) 709
Publication Date 17/11/2021
Content Type , ,


Legislative initiative tabled by the European Commission on 17 November 2021, seeking to introduce stronger rules on waste exports, a more efficient system for the circulation of waste as a resource and action against waste trafficking. It introduces amendments to Regulation (EU) No 1257/2013 and Regulation (EU) No 2020/1056. This is a text with EEA relevance.

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The European Union (EU) is an important player in global trade in waste, and considerable volumes of waste are being shipped between Member States. Waste shipped across borders can generate risks for human health and the environment, especially when not properly controlled. At the same time, these wastes often have a positive economic value, notably as secondary raw materials that can replace and reduce dependencies on primary materials and thereby contribute to a more circular economy.

Measures on the supervision and control of shipments of waste have been in place in the EU since 1984. The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Waste and their Disposal was adopted in 1989 and in 1992 the OECD adopted a legally binding Decision on the control of transboundary movements of wastes destined for recovery operations. Regulation (EC) No 1013/2006 - also known as the Waste Shipment Regulation (WSR) - implemented in EU law the provisions of both the Basel Convention and the OECD Decision.

This draft law proposes a review of the WSR aiming to increase the level of protection of the environment and public health from the impacts of unsound transboundary shipments of waste. It addresses the problems identified in an assessment published by the European Commission in January 2020. It also responds to actions in the framework of the European Green Deal and the latest Circular Economy Action Plan. The revision seeks to facilitate shipments of waste for reuse and recycling in the EU, ensure that the EU does not export its waste challenges to third countries, and tackle illegal waste shipments.

The proposed Regulation was adopted by the European Commission on 17 November 2021. The plenary of the European Parliament endorsed a negotiating position on 17 January 2023. The Council of the European Union adopted its general approach to the draft law on 24 May. An informal agreement between the co-legislators on a compromise text for this file was reached on 17 November 2023.

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Commentary and Analysis
European Environment Bureau (EEB): News, 17/11/2021: EU Waste Shipment Regulation falls short of fixing Europe’s waste export crisis
Human Rights Watch (HRW): News, 25/11/2021: EU Waste Shipment Proposal Takes Steps to Address Plastic Crisis
HKTDC Research: Regulatory Alert, 16/12/2021: EU to Adopt Revised and Stricter Rules on Waste Shipments
European Organisation for Packaging and the Environment (EUROPEN): News, 17/12/2021: Publication of the long-awaited Waste Shipment Regulation proposal
European Steel Association (EUROFER): Position Papers, 17/01/2022: Revision of the Waste Shipment Regulation
Zero Waste Europe, 11/03/2022: Waste trade: the EU’s so-called “economic opportunity” for receiving countries is a systemic and ethical failure
European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS): Briefing, 11/04/2022: Review of the Waste Shipment Regulation - Initial Appraisal of a European Commission Impact Assessment
Plastics Europe, 18/10/2022: Plastics value chain calls for free movement of waste in the EU
European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS): Briefing, 11/01/2023: Revision of the EU's Waste Shipment Regulation
European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS): At a Glance, 11/01/2023: Strengthening EU rules on waste shipments
S&P Global: Commodity Insights, 28/04/2023: Revised EU waste shipment rules likely to start in 2024, impacting scrap exporters

EurActiv, 17/11/2021: Europe cracks down on illegal waste exports, eases intra-EU trade
Reuters, 17/11/2021: EU eyes tighter waste rules to limit countries shipping trash abroad
EurActiv, 18/05/2022: New restrictions on waste exports risk hindering recycling in Europe, industry warns
EurActiv, 18/01/2023: Parliament backs export ban on all waste destined for disposal
Politico, 19/10/2023: To ban or not to ban: Fixing the EU’s global plastic waste mess
Reuters, 17/11/2023: EU reaches deal to stop sending waste to countries that can't process it

EUR-LEX: SWD(2021)330: Staff Working Document accompanying the Proposal - Subsidiarity Assessment Grid
EUR-LEX: SWD(2021)331: Staff Working Document accompanying the Proposal - Impact Assessment
EUR-LEX: SWD(2021)332: Staff Working Document accompanying the Proposal - Executive Summary of the Impact Assessment
European Parliament: Legislative Observatory: Procedure File for Proposal on Shipments of waste (2021/0367(COD))
European Parliament: Legislative Train Schedule: Revision of Regulation (EC) No 1013/2006 on Shipments of Waste (REFIT)
European Commission: DG Environment: Topics: Waste shipments
General Secretariat of the Council: Policies: Waste trade
European Commission: Press Release, 17/11/2021: European Green Deal: Commission adopts new proposals to stop deforestation, innovate sustainable waste management and make soils healthy for people, nature and climate
European Commission: Questions and Answers on new EU rules on waste shipments (17 November 2021)
European Commission: Press conference by Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans and Commissioner Sinkevičius on a package of proposals on soil, waste and deforestation (17 November 2021)
European Parliament: Press Release, 01/12/2022: Waste shipments: stricter rules to protect the environment and human health
European Parliament: Press Release, 17/01/2023: Waste shipments: MEPs push for tighter EU rules
Renew Europe EP Group: News, 17/01/2023: New rules on shipments of waste should boost our circular economy
S&D EP Group: Newsroom, 17/01/2023: S&Ds: The world is not our trash bin. We need to stop EU plastic waste exports to third countries
Council of the European Union: Press Release, 24/05/2023: Waste shipments: Council ready to start talks with Parliament
European Parliament: Press Release, 17/11/2023: Deal reached on stricter EU rules for waste shipments
Council of the European Union: Press Release, 17/11/2023: Waste shipments: Council and Parliament reach agreement on more efficient and updated rules
European Commission: Press Release, 17/11/2023: Commission welcomes political agreement on stronger control of exports of waste

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