In the future, plastic waste from the EU will no longer end up anywhere in the world. Representatives of EU states have agreed with negotiators at the European Parliament in Brussels to ban the export of plastic waste to countries outside the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) , as announced by the European Parliament. This means that exports of plastic waste to Africa or large parts of Asia are initially banned.
However, as EU states write in a communication, non-OECD countries have the possibility to request exemptions five years after the entry into force of the new rules. But to do this, waste management in these countries must meet certain requirements.
With the ban on the export of plastic waste, EU lawmakers want above all to prevent environmental destruction in third countries caused by waste from the EU, the European Commission said about the agreement . “The EU will finally take responsibility for its plastic waste,” said European parliamentarian Pernille Weiss of the EPP-Christian Democrats group. According to Parliament, the regulation should apply two and a half years after the law comes into force. Parliament and EU states still need to formally approve the deal.
In addition, waste export requirements will generally be stricter in the future. At the end of 2021, the European Commission proposed stricter rules for waste exports to better protect the environment and health. Other ordinary waste should only be allowed to be exported to non-OECD countries if it is treated in an environmentally friendly manner and also respects international labor standards and workers’ rights. According to the parliamentary announcement, the European Commission will establish a list of these beneficiary countries, which will be updated at least every two years.
According to the Commission, the EU exported around 33 million tonnes of waste in 2020. A large part of the waste was destined for Turkey, but also for non-OECD countries such as India, Indonesia and Pakistan. Researchers estimate that between 4.8 and 12.7 million tonnes of plastic waste end up in the world’s oceans each year. This is roughly equivalent to one truckload per minute. Animals can eat the waste and die.
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