The European Parliament wants a ban on the export of plastic waste to countries outside the European Union. The ban should come into effect in about three years. With that position, the European Parliament will negotiate with the environment ministers of the EU countries.
According to MEPs, this will be an incentive to design more reusable plastics and to increase the capacity for reprocessing in the short term. According to research, an increase of 10 to 20 percent in capacity is needed. The EU countries currently mainly export plastic waste to Turkey, which cannot even process its own plastic waste.
From 2005 to 2018, the average amount of municipal waste per capita declined in the EU. However, there were different trends per country. For example, there was an increase in Denmark, Germany, Greece, Malta and the Czech Republic and a decrease in Bulgaria, Spain, Hungary, Romania and the Netherlands.
In absolute terms per person, waste production was highest in Denmark, Malta, Cyprus and Germany and lowest in Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Romania.
Landfilling of waste is almost non-existent in countries such as Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Austria, Finland. In those countries, incineration plays an important role alongside reuse.
Landfilling municipal waste is still popular in eastern and southern parts of Europe. Ten countries landfill at least half of their municipal waste. In Malta, Cyprus and Greece it is over 80%; in Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria and Slovakia more than 60%; while in Spain and Portugal it is more than 50%.
The regulation on waste transport that is being prepared goes further than just plastic waste. The export of waste to countries outside the OECD will only be permitted if those countries themselves agree to this in advance, and if it has been demonstrated that they can process it. Exporters will have to demonstrate that their customers process the waste in an environmentally friendly manner.
In 2020, the EU countries exported 32.7 million tons of waste to non-EU countries, accounting for about 16 percent of the global waste trade. This is an increase of 75 percent compared to twenty years ago. In addition, the EU member states trade 67 million tons of waste among themselves each year.