Today, the #BreakFreeFromPlastic movement, Rethink Plastic alliance, Environmental Investigation Agency, Eko, and WeMove have published the results of their joint petition urging the European Union to ban plastic waste exports to both non-OECD and OECD countries.
Over 180,000 individuals have lent their voices to support this call for an EU plastic waste export ban, to end the unethical and exploitative practice of the EU's current plastic waste trade.
Plastic waste shipments are particularly problematic, as such recipient countries have implemented import restrictions, bans, and protective measures. However, EU plastic waste exports continue to be illicitly and legally shipped, burned, dumped, or overwhelm domestic recycling capacity in recipient countries. This persistent practice leads to significant health concerns, particularly for workers and local communities, while also causing harm to the environment.
At the start of 2023, the EU Parliament adopted their negotiating position for a revised law to overhaul EU waste shipments and endorsed a prohibition on exporting plastic waste beyond the EU and EFTA. Subsequently, the Waste Shipment Regulation has progressed to the Trilogue stage of the legislative process, where the European Parliament and the Council are engaged in negotiations to reach a consensus on the final revised Waste Shipment Regulation.
Regrettably, the Council (i.e. EU countries) did not adopt a comparable level of commitment as the European Parliament in preventing further harm resulting from EU plastic waste exports in their position - so a ban is now subject to negotiation between the European Parliament, the Council and the European Commission.
This collective petition serves as a powerful message to the Council and EU Environmental Ministers, and conveys the substantial public support for putting an end to the EU's plastic waste exports in the run up to the last trilogue meeting taking place in November 2023 as well as the third round of negotiations for a Global Plastics Treaty.
"The negative impact of EU plastic waste exports has been clearly evidenced and a ban is in line with EU international obligations. This unethical practice should never have happened in the first place - let's put an end to it now." - Lauren Weir, Senior Campaigner, Environmental Investigation Agency
"The transboundary movement of plastic waste is not a commercial venture, but rather a form of pollution transfer from the global north to the global south. This practice is colonialism and pollutes the environment by disrupting the waste management infrastructure of the receiving countries. This practice can only be stopped by a total ban." - Sedat Gündoğdu, Microplastic Research Group, Türkiye
“What our petition shows is that there is strong support from the public to make plastic waste exports from the EU a thing of the past. We are raising a signal to EU countries and emphasizing the vital role that a ban on EU plastic waste exports can play in mitigating global plastic pollution and ending the practice of waste colonialism.” - Justine Maillot, European Coordinator, Break Free From Plastic
“Africa is not yet free from colonialism; colonialism continues to manifest itself in the form of waste trade that allows for the importation of toxic and non-recyclable waste into the African continent from Global North countries. All countries need to take responsibility for how they produce, manage and dispose of their waste and find better solutions for their waste instead of externalising the problem. BFFP Africa joins the collective voices demanding a full and complete ban on plastic waste exports from the EU. Africa is not a dumping ground!” - Merrisa Naidoo, Africa Plastic Campaigner, Break Free From Plastic