European parliament agrees to ban plastic waste exports outside the EU

A report negotiated by Labour MEP Cyrus Engerer proposing a complete ban on plastic waste exports to third countries is supported by 93% of MEPs

The European Parliament is supporting a complete ban on plastic waste exports to non-EU countries
The European Parliament is supporting a complete ban on plastic waste exports to non-EU countries

A proposal to ban plastic waste exports outside the EU negotiated by Labour MEP Cyrus Engerer received overwhelming support in the European Parliament on Monday.

The proposed ban was supported by 93% of MEPs in a clear sign of parliament’s will to stop the EU from exporting its waste problem.

When addressing the plenary session on Monday evening Engerer expressed disappointment at the EU waste policy and the way it has sought to close a blind eye to an unacceptable reality affecting so many vulnerable communities outside the European continent.

“Europe cannot continue to export its waste challenges to third countries with devastating consequences on their climate, environment and human health. It is time for us to own up to our responsibility in this sector and start treating plastic as a valuable resource which will contribute to the full functioning of a European circular economy,” Engerer said.

The Labour MEP negotiated the revision to the EU Waste Shipment Regulation on behalf of the Socialists and Democrats group in the European Parliament.

“We live in one world and exporting pollution to third countries will have a global impact. We cannot remain idle in the face of what our actions are meaning to the health and human rights of people living in developing countries,” Engerer said.

He argued that the only way Europe can truly move to a circular economy is by putting an end to the toxic dumping practices and dumping sites, created in some of the most vulnerable regions of the world. 

The European Parliament now has an agreement to phase out the exports of plastic waste outside the EU. Any other waste exported outside the EU can only be received by waste facilities which meet the same standards applicable in the EU.

The European Parliament also agreed to facilitate the transport of waste between EU member states by reducing red tape, which in turn also facilitates the reuse of waste. 

The report will now go for negotiations with the Council of the EU with a view to reaching a compromise agreement in the coming months.

Engerer said he will continue working to maintain the ambition agreed upon in this report and to ensure the best possible outcome from these negotiations.