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Plastic waste in the EU | Posted on 2023-01-26 14:35

The European Parliament voted a few days ago on the report tabled by MEP Weiss on the waste shipment regulation. The Rethink Plastic alliance and the Break Free From Plastic movement applaud the result.

“It is an immense joy; the decision taken by the European Parliament in favor of a progressive ban on the export of plastic waste from outside the EU/EFTA is welcome. Many of us around the world have worked tirelessly to highlight the unparalleled body of evidence and real-world experience that demonstrates that the plastic waste trade is harmful and exploitative. Another important step to end waste colonialism. – Lauren Weir, oceans campaigner at the Environmental Investigation Agency

“The European Parliament has shown today that it takes seriously the protection of Member States against illegal shipments of waste. We are happy to see this firm stance on intra-EU shipments of plastic waste which aims to finally bring the EU into line with the international rules established by the Basel Convention. Now Member States must honor this ambition. Theresa Morsen, Head of Waste Policy at Zero Waste Europe

“The European export of waste has not been without high costs for the environment and human health. Today, the European Parliament has paved the way for a more responsible, more transparent and better enforced waste export policy. The groundwork is now laid for EU countries to restrict a 'boost' approach in the global waste management system, prioritize waste prevention and seize the opportunity for the EU to preserve the valuable secondary raw materials.Stéphane Arditi, Director for Climate, Circular Economy and Industry at the European Environmental Bureau

NGOs are calling for a complete ban on EU plastic waste exports as a new report finds recycling capacities in destination countries are overstretched.

In addition to the damage to the environment and human health caused by the plastic waste trade and the presence of illegal transfers of waste facilitated through legal channels, the displacement of recycling capacity is another important factor that highlights why these two measures are needed under the latest revision of the Waste Shipment Regulation.

The new report by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and the Rethink Plastic Alliance (RPa) titled “ Plastic Waste Power Play: The offshoring and recycling displacement involved in trying to recycle EU plastic waste ” shows that exports of plastic waste in the EU absorb a limited plastic waste recycling capacity in the recipient countries.

The vast majority of plastic has never been recycled, and exporting plastic waste from high-income, plastic-intensive countries also helps perpetuate the linear status quo, rather than prioritizing waste reduction. plastic consumption.

The European Parliament therefore had to vote on the waste shipment regulation. The Rethink Plastic alliance and the Break Free From Plastic movement therefore recommend that the European Parliament plenary supports the results of the ENVI committee vote, including by voting in favor of a total ban on the export of plastic waste outside the European Union. EU and EFTA, in addition to full implementation of the Basel Convention within the EU.

Major EU plastic waste exporters such as Germany, the Netherlands, France and Belgium are not only prolific consumers of plastic, but also take advantage of the opportunity to export plastic waste in order to trying to meet their recycling targets. However, the report points out that this results in recipient countries' recycling capacity being flooded and the ability to recycle their own locally produced plastic waste is thereby compromised, leading to a displacement of recycling capacity.

Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, such as Turkey, non-OECD countries, such as Malaysia, and some EU member states are recipients of EU plastic waste and are not the only ones to suffer the significant damage caused to the environment and to human health by these transfers.

For example, in 2021, 35% of the 1,135 million kilos of plastic waste exported by the EU went to Turkey alone. Imported plastic waste accounted for 78.7% of Turkey's recycling production volume, of which 58% came from the EU. Simply put, without having to recycle plastic waste from high-income countries, these countries would also have a greater capacity to recycle locally produced plastic waste.

“These findings seek to demonstrate yet another harmful outcome of this plastic waste trade. When EU plastic waste is actually recycled in recipient countries, it displaces the recycling capacity of locally produced plastic waste and facilitates continued high levels of plastic consumption in the EU,” said Lauren Weir, campaign on the oceans at the Environmental Investigation Agency.

The report also highlights that the exploitative power dynamics occurring globally in the
trade in plastic waste also occurs within the Union and that is why adequate safeguard policies within the EU – including the full transposition of the Basel Convention within the Union – are crucial . The RPa is very concerned about attempts to remove these vital measures, which must be maintained to ensure that the Basel Convention is correctly and legally applied within the EU.


- Bich Dao - - Communications officer

European Environmental Bureau

- Rethink plastic

Posted on 2023-01-26 14:35

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