The European Parliament has approved a legislation that limits the shipment of waste. Waste generated within the EU must now be managed in an eco-friendly manner and cannot be extensively exported to non-EU countries. This practice has frequently resulted in the contamination of entire areas through landfill disposal or incineration, causing harm to the environment.
On January 17, 2023, the European Parliament held a vote in Strasbourg and approved a legislation that limits the shipment of waste from the EU to non-Union nations. The objective is to diminish pollution and promote the reuse and recycling of materials such as plastic, rather than their disposal. This initiative is a component of the European Green Deal.
In the upcoming years, waste will only be sent to specific non-OECD countries, provided they demonstrate environmentally friendly waste management practices. The export of hazardous waste will be completely prohibited. The objective is to reduce global waste transportation and minimize environmentally harmful processes like incineration.
“We currently handle our extensive waste in the EU by adopting an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ approach. However, this not only results in us transferring our problem elsewhere, but also shifts the responsibility of proper disposal onto countries outside the EU. This often leads to the creation of illegal landfills, which negatively impact the environment and local communities,” expresses Delara Burkhardt, environmental policy spokesperson for the Socialist S&D Group in the EU Parliament. Consequently, there is a need for a shift in this approach.
The EU Waste Shipment Regulation report was approved by a significant majority in Parliament, with 594 votes in favor, 5 against, and 43 abstentions. Discussions will occur between the European Parliament and EU member states this year to complete the text. Only after that can the law be implemented.
The majority of waste from the European Union is disposed of in Turkey.
The quantity of waste being traded globally is consistently rising. In 2018, the OECD reported that 182 million tons of waste were exchanged. The European Union is significantly involved in this trend. Eurostat states that in 2021, the EU exported 33 million tons of waste to countries outside the EU. This represents a 77 percent growth compared to 2004. Turkey emerged as the primary recipient of EU waste in the previous year, receiving approximately 14.7 million tons, which is three times the amount received in 2004.
The second-highest amount of EU waste was exported to India this year—about 2.4 million tons. The countries behind are Egypt and Switzerland, with 1.9 and 1.7 million tons, respectively. Eurostat reports that the amount of waste shipped from the EU to China has decreased significantly in recent years. Namely, from a peak of 10.1 million tons in 2009 to 0.4 million tons in 2021.
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