Engerer backs ban on waste exports to states failing EU standard

Cyrus Engerer leads S&D call to ban the export of waste to third countries which cannot guarantee European standards

The Labour MEP Cyrus Engerer is supporting a call to ban the export of waste to non-EU countries that do not guarantee similar European standards.

The European Parliament is expected to finalise its position in the coming months, to vote on the Waste Shipment Regulation to ban the export of waste to countries outside of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

But the proposal has come under fire by European environmental activists for not being ambitious enough, and are calling for a total ban on waste exports to countries without the environmental guarantees in place to treat the EU waste at the same standards as within the EU.

“The exportation of our waste to third countries that do not have the facilities to treat and recycle waste at Europe’s standards must end immediately – the current practice of doing so is not only selfish, but unsustainable,” Engerer said, submitting the Socialists and Democrats’s position on the Waste Shipment Regulation which is currently being negotiated within the European Parliament.

Engerer said the EU should also end all export of plastic waste, which is a resource that cannot be dumped any longer. “We must recycle all plastic in Europe and the plastic economy must become circular,” the MEP said.

 The EU’ss waste exportation over the years has increased with figures showing that international trade in waste increased by 75% between 1992 and 2016. In 2020 alone, the EU exported around 33 million tonnes of waste to non-EU countries, and currently exports around 20% of the global share of waste to third countries.

“As has been made clear throughout the past years, the fight against climate change is a global fight and not an individualistic one,” Engerer said.

“What happens on one side of the world, has deep effects on the other side of the world. So it is unacceptable that the EU continues to send its waste to third countries in order to dispose of it, when these third countries do not have the facilities to treat that waste in an environmentally sound manner.” 

Engerer also criticised the European Commission’s initial proposal for not being ambitious enough, especially with regards to issues relating to the exportation of plastic waste.

“As Socialists and Democrats, we will also be calling for a total ban on the export of plastic waste. It is imperative for us to recognise the amount of harm we are causing third countries and ultimately the planet. They are destroying our environment, and our health.

“These practices will eventually hurt us all, but currently those suffering the most on the frontlines of this challenge are third countries, and poor regions. We are exporting our problems and dumping them on some of the most vulnerable people in the world.

“As S&D, we are calling for a total and immediate ban, with the view of finally fully implementing the 1992 Basel Convention which seeks to prevent the transfer of hazardous waste from developed to less developed countries,” Engerer said.

Engerer said another important objective of the regulation is the fight against organised crime and trafficking of waste.  “In this regard, it is being suggested that OLAF will be empowered through the regulation to fight crimes relating to the shipment of waste.”

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This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

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