Non-hazardous waste contains valuable secondary raw materials. As natural resources are scarce, the importance of these materials is growing. With the rapid growth of the recycling sector worldwide, trade in recyclables increased significantly over the past two decades.

Trade in waste can result in an increase of recovery, improving environmental outcomes and supporting international development. On the other hand, national rules must be respected, including ensuring that international trade does not lead to worst environmental and human health outcomes.

The EU is the world’s largest exporter of non-hazardous waste destined for recovery and a major importer of non-hazardous wastes.

Exports of non-hazardous waste to non-EU non-OECD countries for recovery is allowed, if it is permitted by the importing country and in accordance with any conditions set out by that country.

The EU’s legal instrument governing such trade is Commission Regulation (EC) 1418/2007 of 29 November 2007, including a specific Annex. The last update of this Annex was carried out in 2014 based on information gathered by the European Commission in 2013.

The legal base for Commission Regulation (EC) 1418/2007 is Article 37(2) of Regulation (EC) No. 1013/2006 of 14 June 2006 on shipments of waste, which lays down requirements and procedures for the transboundary shipments (i.e. transport) of waste. In particular, it includes a ban on the export of hazardous wastes for recovery to non-OECD countries as well as a b an on the export of waste for disposal (except to EFTA countries).

The Regulation implements into EU law the provisions of the global “Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal”, as well as the “OECD Decision C(2007)107 Concerning the Control of Transboundary Movement of Wastes for Recovery” between member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Adopted in 1989, the Basel Convention aims notably at restricting “transboundary movements of hazardous waste except when it is perceived to be in accordance with the principles of environmentally sound management” and provided written consent has been granted by the concerned states.

The OECD Decision establishes two types of control procedures depending on whether the waste presents low risk for human health and the environment (“green control procedure”) or presents risks (“amber control procedure”).

For further information on the European Commission’s activities on non-hazardous waste shipments, go to http://ec.europa.eu/trade/import-and-export-rules/export-from-eu/waste-shipment/