On December 22, 2020, the European Commission (EC) announced that it has adopted a set of new rules under Regulation (EU) 2020/2174 restricting the movement of plastic waste. The rules ban the export of hazardous and hard to recycle plastic waste to non-OECD countries, as well as require prior informed consent from the receiving country for all intra-EU shipments of such waste. Exporting non-hazardous plastic waste intended for recycling to non-OECD countries will only be approved under specific conditions, including those set by the receiving country or via a prior informed consent procedure. The new rules entered into force on January 1, 2021.

Virginijus Sinkevičius, the EU Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, commented that “these new rules send a clear message that in the EU we are taking responsibility for the waste we generate. The export of plastic waste will only be allowed under very strict conditions. The export of unsorted plastic waste to non-OECD countries will be completely banned. This is an important milestone in fighting plastic pollution, transitioning shifting to a circular economy, and achieving the aims of the European Green Deal.”

The implementation of these new rules follows an agreement by members of the Basel Convention in May 2019 to introduce a prior informed consent procedure on the trade of hazardous and unrecyclable plastics (FPF reported). OECD member countries have not yet reached an agreement on how to implement this outcome from the Basel Convention across the bloc, and the EU has therefore acted independently in adopting these new rules.

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EC (December 22, 2020). “Plastic waste shipments: new EU rules on importing and exporting plastic waste.”

CommonDreams (December 25, 2020). “EU Bans Exporting Unsorted Plastic Waste to Poorer Countries.” EcoWatch


EC (December 22, 2020). “Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2020/2174 of 19 October 2020 amending Annexes IC, III, IIIA, IV, V, VII and VIII to Regulation (EC) No 1013/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council on shipments of waste.”