The European Union on Friday made major progress in its efforts to stop the shipment of plastic waste to poor countries.
Under a temporary agreement, the 27 EU countries can no longer send their plastic waste to poor countries outside the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
The text now needs to be formally approved by the council representing the EU member states and the EU Parliament in order for it to come into effect.
A third of plastic waste in Europe is recycled and half of the plastic collected for recycling is exported for treatment in countries outside the EU.
“The EU will finally accept responsibility for its plastic waste by banning its export to non-OECD countries,” said Pernille Weiss, rapporteur of the EU Parliament. “Once again, we adhere to our view that waste is a resource when managed properly, but in no case should it harm the environment or human health.”
In addition, exports of plastic waste to 38 OECD countries “will be subject to stricter conditions, including the obligation to use a prior written notification and consent procedure, and closer monitoring of compliance, ” detailed in Parliament.
The agreement was announced as negotiations led by the United Nations for an agreement to reduce plastic pollution continue in Kenya.
Five years after the introduction of the regulation, non-OECD countries have the option to apply to the European Commission, the executive arm of the EU, for the right to import plastic waste and the ban will be lifted if they show who can treat them right.
The European Commission said negotiators agreed to set up a group to coordinate action among member countries to ensure illegal shipments are detected and prevented.
According to EU data, global plastic production has grown from 1.5 million tons in 1950 to 359 million tons in 2018. As part of the Green Deal, 55% of plastic packaging waste must be recycled in 2030.