Following pressure from the Rethink Plastic alliance and the Break Free From Plastic movement, the European Parliament voted for a full ban on extra-EU/ European
Free Trade Association (EFTA) plastic waste exports as well as the full transposition of the Basel Convention plastic waste amendments within the EU on 17 January 2023.
“Great joy, the European Parliament’s decision supporting a phased-in extra-EU/EFTA plastic waste export ban is welcomed. Many of us across the world have worked tirelessly to highlight the unparalleled body of evidence and real-world experiences that demonstrate that the plastic waste trade is harmful and exploitative. Another important step to ending waste colonialism.” – Lauren Weir, Senior Ocean Campaigner at the Environmental Investigation Agency
Major exporters of EU plastic waste such as Germany, the Netherlands, France, and
Belgium are not only prolific consumers of plastic, but also take advantage of the possibility to export plastic waste in order to try and achieve their recycling targets. The vast majority of the exported plastic waste from high-income, high plastic consuming countries helps perpetuate the linear status quo, rather than prioritising the reduction of plastic consumption. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, such as Turkey, non-OECD countries, such as Malaysia, and certain EU Member States are recipients of EU plastic waste and not only bear the brunt of significant environmental and human health harm resulting from these shipments.
In addition to the environmental and human health harm brought about by the plastic waste trade and the presence of illegal waste shipments facilitated by legal channels, recycling capacity displacement is another important factor highlighting why both such measures are necessary within the latest revision of the Waste Shipment Regulation.
“The European Parliament has shown today that it takes protecting member states from illicit waste shipment seriously. We are happy to see this strong stance on intra EU shipments of plastic waste that seeks to finally make the EU compliant with international rules set by the Basel Convention. Now the member states have to honour this ambition.” – Theresa Morsen, Waste Policy Officer at Zero Waste Europe
“European waste export has not gone without great costs to the environment and human health. Today, the EU 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 kick-the-can-down-the-road approach in the global waste management system, prioritise waste prevention and seize the opportunity for the EU to preserve precious secondary raw materials.”
Stephane Arditi – Director for Climate, Circular Economy and Industry at the European Environmental Bureau
For more information about waste trade and the revision of the Waste Shipment Regulation: :
Rethink Plastic alliance Press Release 16 January 2023: NGOs advocate for full ban on plastic waste exports from the EU as new report finds receiving countries’ recycling capacities overburdened
Niamh Cullen, Communications Coordinator at the Rethink Plastic alliance email@example.com +32 497 83 23 24
Lauren Weir, Senior Ocean Campaigner at the Environmental Investigation Agency
Theresa Mörsen, Waste Policy Officer at Zero Waste Europe firstname.lastname@example.org
For further information:
- Plastic Waste Power Play – Environmental Investigation Agency
- The Truth behind Trash – Environmental Investigation Agency
- The Health Impacts of Plastic Recycling in Turkey – Human Rights Watch
- The Plastic Waste Trade Manifesto – Break Free From Plastic
- Indonesia Waste Trade Update 2022: Focusing on Plastic and Paper Waste in Indonesia – Nexus3 Foundation
- Malaysia is Not a “Garbage Dump” – Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism
- Discarded: Communities on the Frontlines of the Global Plastic Crisis – Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives