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Concern over EU waste shipment proposals

The Recycling Association (TRA) has warned that waste exports could be hit by EU proposals to change shipment regulations.

TRA chief executive Simon Ellin (pictured) expressed concern about a desire that materials exported from Europe for reuse or recycling have to go to facilities with “conditions that are equivalent” to EU standards.

He said this could mean that facilities with higher standards would be prevented from doing so and has called for the plans to be altered.

The regulation change was put forward by the European Commission as part of its circular economy proposals in December. Ellin was disappointed that the EU Parliament’s draft response does not seek to alter this.

“Often exported material is sent to facilities that are superior to those in Europe, particularly in China.

“This requirement could mean that material may be prevented from being sent to facilities that are better in terms of environmental and health and safety requirements than those in Europe because of a technicality.”

He called for the current regulations on waste shipments to be retained, which require such facilities to be ’broadly equivalent’ on human health and environmental protection standards.

He was more positive on other issues in rapporteur Simona Bonafe’s draft report for the Parliament, in particular measures to improve the quality of recyclates such as paper.

The report also calls for ’clear rules’ on end-of-waste criteria for secondary raw materials, which Ellin welcomed but wanted more clarity.

“Our members require these clear rules because, at present, regulators are not clear on how much out-throw is allowed when exporting secondary materials outside the EU.

“This means our members are being subjected to inspections, and in some cases prosecution, based on rules that are currently not specific.

“The proposals on establishing harmonised end-of-waste criteria for paper could be helpful as long as the rules are sensible. However, the proposals in the draft report are vague and more clarity is needed on what this would mean for recyclers.”

He added that proposals to allow member states to create their own end-of-waste criteria could make trade and regulation more difficult than it is now.

Meanwhile, trade body Rreuse praised Bonafe’s report for putting forward an improved definition of ‘preparing for reuse’ than in the Commission’s original proposals.

But it criticised the report for not proposing a separate pan-European target for preparing for reuse.

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