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Brussels, 12 July 2007

Environment: new EU waste shipment legislation comes into force today

The new regulation on transboundary shipments of waste which applies from today aims to ensure that waste is properly handled from the time it is shipped to the time it is disposed of or recovered at destination. To achieve its objectives the regulation reinforces and clarifies the current legal framework for waste shipment within the EU and with non-EU countries. The regulation – which was adopted last year but applies only as of 12 July 2007 – also bans the export of hazardous waste or waste for disposal to certain countries.

Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said: “The safe shipment of waste is one of the Commission's highest environmental priorities. We must make sure that tragic accidents such as last year's dumping of dangerous waste in the Ivory Coast never happen again. This is why we must have strong and efficient measures at EU level to prevent illegal shipments of waste and to ensure that when waste is shipped for treatment outside the EU , this treatment does not damage the environment."

A stronger waste shipment regime

The aim of the new Regulation is to ensure that waste is handled in an environmentally-sound manner throughout the shipping process, including recovery or disposal in the country of destination. This new regulation builds on and replaces the 1993 waste shipment regulation[1] by providing a clearer and simplified legal framework.

The regulation provides for greater enforcement measures. It requires Member States to carry out inspections and spot checks. It also allows for physical checks of shipments - such as the opening of containers - to be carried out, and obliges Member States to report to the Commission on their legislation and penalties on illegal waste shipments.

The regulation is based on the commitments undertaken by the European Union within the context of the Basel Convention and the OECD Decision on the transboundary movements of waste. However, the EU regulation goes further and includes provisions on the shipment of waste between Member States. The regulation provides the basis for the type of requirements shipments must comply with and the type of information that must accompany such shipments. Green waste, for example, is subject to less stringent information requirements than hazardous waste or waste for disposal within the EU.

The regulation lays down criteria for the type of waste shipment that is banned to non-EU countries and the notification procedure and information requirements. Conditions are also provided for taking back illegal waste shipments or shipments which cannot be completed and the financial assurances for returned shipments.

Banning certain type of waste exports

An important feature of the regulation is the ban on exports of hazardous waste from the EU to developing countries. This is based on the amendment made to the United Nations Basel Convention, also known as the ”Basel ban”. Another characteristic of the regulation is the ban on exports of waste for disposal to countries outside the EU and EFTA. The ban will thus be applied as a means to prevent large amounts of electronic and electric waste and end-of-life vehicles being shipped to and dumped in developing countries. Recent proposals on criminal sanctions for environmental crimes and measures to support law enforcement authorities in European ports will also contribute to this objective.

A provision in the regulation requires Member States to cooperate with one another to facilitate the prevention and detection of illegal shipments thereby reducing the number of illegal shipments being transported between Member States.

Despite its increased requirements the new regulation is clearer and simpler than the one it replaces. For example, it reduces the number of waste shipment procedures and paves the way for notifications to be sent via electronic means.

The Commission will also closely monitor that the new requirements are complied with throughout the EU.

Trade of non-hazardous waste

Exports of "green" waste for recovery outside the OECD arecovered by a European Commission regulation dealing specifically with the trade of non-hazardous waste to non-OECD countries.

More information

DG Environment web page on waste shipments:

Waste shipment legislation:

The Basel Convention:

OECD Decision on the shipment of waste:

[1] Regulation EC/259/93 of 1 February 1993 on the supervision and control of shipments of waste within, into and out of the European Community

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