Waste exports to be monitored

Developing countries will be better protected against receiving unwanted waste from wealthier nations under revised international rules.

The ‘Green List’ regulation - which covers the export of non-hazardous recyclable materials from the EU - has been updated to formally record the wishes of countries outside the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) that have expressed an opinion about the recyclable materials they would like to receive. Where a country has not expressed an opinion, agreement must be given on a case-by-case basis.

The aim is to protect these countries from receiving materials they do not want, and the change will also help prevent the export of recyclables to countries which believe they could not process them in an environmentally sound way.

Complementary changes to the Transfrontier Shipment of Waste Regulations will go into effect on February 5, 2008, and will make it an offense for anyone to export material against the specified wishes of non-OECD countries.

Environment Minister Joan Ruddock said, “Many developing countries want our recyclables because of the value to their growing manufacturing sectors. There is a double environmental win from this trade - it makes more sustainable use of the world’s resources, cutting the consumption of virgin raw materials, while boosting recycling levels in the UK and reducing our reliance on landfill.

“But it is essential that this important legitimate trade is carried out in a mutually respectful and beneficial way. It is completely unacceptable to use it as a cover for dumping unwanted materials on countries that have no use for them, or cannot process them efficiently. This revised regulation will help prevent that happening.