EC publishes stakeholder notice on waste shipments from 1 Jan

06 JULY 2020

The European Commission has published its views on the status of transboundary shipments of waste following the 1 January exit from the EU.

The first point clarifies that the UK will no longer be part of the EU transboundary shipment regulations and that the export of waste for disposal and municipal waste for recovery from the EU to the UK will be prohibited although imports of these waste from the UK to the EU will be able to continue. It also explains that the validity of notification consents issued prior to the 1 January will be dependent on the decision of the relevant competent authorities as to whether a new application is required.

The second relates to targets and is basically saying that waste exported to the UK from the EU for recycling would still be valid for recycling target measurement.

But it is the third point which is perhaps of most interest and that is the EU position on waste movements between Northern Ireland and GB under the terms of the still-to-be agreed NI Protocol. The EC considers that for waste purposes, NI will effectively be part of the EU and that movements of waste between NI and GB will be subject to the same controls and the movement of waste between GB and other member states.

This is not a view shared by the UK government. The position provided by Defra is that the Government’s Command Paper on the Northern Ireland Protocol makes clear that there will be no new regulatory checks between Northern Ireland and GB. It would also expect the status quo to remain in relation to waste movements between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

As with all things Brexit, there is clearly still much to be negotiated, but at this stage, it would be reasonable to assume business as usual from 1 Jan in terms of waste controls between NI and GB although there may be differences in customs and tariffs.

On a wider basis, from 1 Jan, the UK will be treated as any other OECD country by the EU. The UK is a signatory to the Basel convention and therefore will be able to continue to export to and import from the EU and other countries under Basel convention rules which determine the status of waste with regards to export – whether prohibited, notifiable or green list. Exporters should therefore see little change.

However, exporters to the EU should be aware of the following:

  • For notifiable wastes going for recycling or recovery from GB to EU there will be a new requirement - waste carriers should carry a copy of the waste movement form and present it to the EU Customs Office of Entry into the EU if requested (although for most EU MS this is currently not enforced for existing imports from non-EU countries).
  • The main exception is Germany. Iif waste carriers are taking notified waste into the EU through a German point of entry to the EU they will have to take the waste through a point of entry for waste designated by the German Government (see this EU website) and present German Customs with the notified waste movement form. There are a few other Member States with designated points of entry for waste but they are in Eastern Europe.