EU certification for waste treatment facilities in third countries not the right tool

Source: FEAD

Brussels — A recent study backed by the European Commission identified a mandatory EU certification scheme as the best way of combating illegal waste shipments from the EU to third countries. The scheme would require EU waste exporters to ship recyclable waste only to third country facilities certified according to EU requirements, in order to ensure the environmentally sound treatment of the waste.

In its reaction to the Commission stakeholder consultation on the introduction of such a certification scheme, the European Federation of Waste Management and Environmental Services (FEAD) made clear its view that the fight against illegal waste shipments and the promotion of environmentally sound management of waste should be a priority for European policy-makers. However FEAD members do not believe that a global certification system would be an effective way to do this.

FEAD Secretary General Nadine De Greef said: “Everybody opposes illegal waste shipments and substandard waste treatment. But in tackling that problem we must not obstruct legal exports of recyclable waste, which are a vital part of the global circular economy. At present Europe cannot recycle all the material it collects, so exports of recyclable waste (clean and dry waste fractions, not mixed household waste) to third country facilities that ensure an environmentally sound management make an important contribution to the EU recycling targets. To hinder such legal exports would create an artificial over-supply of waste materials within the EU, which would lower prices and render recycling activities no longer economically viable. And it would not deter illegal activity.”

FEAD members strongly believe that the EU and its member states can do more to address illegal exports of waste. The recently adopted Commission proposal on waste inspection criteria (amending Regulation (EC) No 1013/2006 on shipments of waste) is a step in the right direction. Only by ensuring the proper enforcement of existing waste legislation, better coordination between regulatory bodies and more effective inspections, will the EU be able to effectively combat rogue trading of waste. In this context, FEAD supports the development of an electronic data interchange system, which will increase transparency and traceability of waste flows.

Independently of the current consultation (which targets exports of non-hazardous waste streams), FEAD calls on the Commission to assess the introduction of an EU-wide certification scheme for primary treatment facilities for hazardous waste such as WEEE and End-of-Life Vehicles. This should contribute to their proper treatment and allow for the recycling of valuable raw materials.

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Source: FEAD – European Federation of Waste Management and Environmental Services