EU Bans Export of Plastic Waste to Poor Countries

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Stack of crushed colorful plastic bottles background waiting for recycle

By Ahmed Rahma

Starting from Friday, January 1, 2021, the exportation of plastic waste from European Union (EU) member states to poor countries will be prohibited.

This action followed concerns about pollution in third world countries and according to the European Commission, plastic exports would also be “more strictly controlled.”

It was stated that the new rules still allow for “clean plastic waste sent for recycling” to be exported to countries not part of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Following China’s ban on plastic imports at the beginning of 2018, previously a major destination for plastic waste, plastic trade shifted to other countries in Asia, such as Malaysia, reports say.

With no or not sufficient recycling facilities established in those countries, the EU’s exports sparked criticism from environmentalists, who claimed that much of the bloc’s waste ends up in oceans or being burned in open fires.

Speaking on the matter, the Environment Commissioner, Mr Virginijus Sinkevicius, noted that “these new rules send a clear message that in the EU, we are taking responsibility for the waste we generate.”

“The export of unsorted plastic waste to non-OECD countries will be completely banned,” he added.

The EU is a political and economic union of 27-member States that are located primarily in Europe. The bloc’s policies aim to ensure the free movement of people, goods, services and capital within the internal market; enact legislation in justice and home affairs; and maintain common policies on trade, agriculture, fisheries, and regional development.

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