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EU bans exporting hard to recycle plastic waste to non-OECD countries

Christian Fernsby |
The European Commission on Tuesday adopted a ban on the export of hazardous plastic waste as well as those hard to recycle from the European Union (EU) to non-OECD countries.

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"This is an important milestone in fighting plastic pollution," said EU Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevicius in a news announcement.

The ban is among a set of new EU rules on importing and exporting plastic waste. According to the rules that will enter into effect on Jan. 1, 2021, exporting plastic waste from the EU to OECD countries and imports in the EU will also be more strictly controlled.

The commission said the ban on the export of plastic waste that is difficult to recycle will move the EU ahead of the requirements of the Basel Convention, an international treaty forbidding developed nations to dump their waste on the developing world.

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), consisting of 37 most developed countries, is known as "the club of the rich."

In 2019, the EU exported 1.5 million tonnes of plastic waste, mostly to Turkey and Asian countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, India and China. The share of exported plastic waste to China has radically fallen since the country adopted restrictions on waste import in 2018.

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