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Brussels, 1 July 2003

Commission proposes simplified control procedures for shipments of waste

The European Commission has proposed a revision of the 10-year-old Waste Shipment Regulation. This Regulation sets environmental criteria for waste shipments within, into and outside the European Union. It covers shipments of practically all types of waste by all types of means, including vehicles, trains, ships and planes. The proposal strengthens the current control procedures,simplifying and clarifying them to the benefit of both the environment and waste shipment companies. The proposal is also a step towards greater international harmonisation of waste shipments, as it fully implements the UN Basel Convention, which regulates shipments of hazardous waste at international level. The proposal reduces procedures and lists of waste from three to two

“The strengthening and simplification of the control procedures will make it easier to adhere to them and thereby further improve the degree of environmental protection,” Environment Commissioner Margot Wallström said. “In the future all shipments of hazardous waste will require explicit and written consent from the country of export as well as the country of import. This will enhance the environmental benefits of this Regulation, as risks of uncontrolled waste shipments will be reduced. The proposal also moves us closer towards international harmonisation in the field of waste shipments.”

The Commission's proposal introduces clarifications on the application and implementation of the current Regulation. The proposal does not change the basic logic of the current Regulation - namely that shipments of waste must follow specific procedures, which depend on the type of waste shipped, whether it is hazardous waste or not, and the type of treatment that will be applied to the waste at its destination: recovery or disposal.

Main new provisions

The main procedure envisaged under the proposal is a procedure requiring prior written notification and consent for all shipments of waste destined for disposal, and of hazardous (like asbestos) and semi-hazardous waste (like ashes and other residues containing metals) destined for recovery. Under the current Regulation there are two procedures for such shipments, one is based on tacit and the other one on written consent. The proposal abolishes the tacit consent procedure, so that the procedure requiring written consent will become the main procedure. This simplification ensures proper control of hazardous waste as required under the Basel Convention, and minimises uncontrolled shipments of hazardous waste.

The second procedure under the proposal applies to shipments of non-hazardous waste (like glass and paper) destined for recovery.

It only requires that certain information is made available to accompany the shipments and neither notification nor consent is required in relation to such shipments.

The proposal also provides for several new procedural safeguards in order to protect the notifier's rights and to ensure that the competent authorities respect certain different deadlines. The proposal also clarifies that a shipment has to be controlled “all the way to the end” - meaning until completion of final recovery and disposal. This will ensure that waste cannot be left at an interim facility untreated and unmonitored. Final treatment in terms of final recovery and disposal must thus be proven before the shipment can be considered completed and thus “released” from further controls under this regime.

The proposal is available on the Commission's website at the following address:


The Waste Shipment Regulation(1) establishes the control procedures for shipments within, into and out of the EU. The aim is to ensure a high level of environmental and human health protection, while at the same time safeguarding trading rights within the internal market. The Regulation implements the Basel Convention that regulates hazardous waste and an OECD Decision that regulates shipments for recovery into EU legislation.

The Regulation covers shipments of practically all types of waste. Only radioactive waste as well as a few other types of waste are not covered by the Regulation, since they are subject to separate control regimes. These exemptions include, for example, shipments of waste generated on board civil air planes whilst airborne and until landing, and the offloading to shore of waste generated by the normal operation of ships and offshore platforms.

(1)Council Regulation No 259/93 on the supervision and control of shipments of waste within, into and out of the European Community

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