What changes worldwide could have the biggest impact on the circular economy? Read our selection for you for February 2021.

New rules on plastic waste shipments

28 January 2021

The European Commission has established new rules for the cross-border trade of plastic waste. Shortly before Christmas, it adopted a corresponding delegated regulation to amend the Waste Shipment Regulation. The new rules are intended to combat plastic pollution and facilitate the transition to a circular economy.

The most important changes are:

  • The export of hazardous or difficult-to-recycle plastic waste to non-OECD countries is prohibited. All other plastic waste may only be exported if it is destined for recycling and if the conditions set by the importing country are met.
  • The export of hazardous or difficult-to-recycle plastic waste to OECD countries is subject to prior written notification and consent.
  • The latter also applies to the import of hazardous or difficult-to-recycle plastic waste into the European Union and to its shipment within the European Union.

The new rules, which came into force on 1 January 2021, implement a decision of the Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention taken by 187 countries in May 2019. The delegated regulation can be downloaded from the Commission’s website.

EPR to assist Europe’s green recovery

The Council of the European Union has adopted conclusions which emphasize the need to make Europe’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic circular and green.

The conclusions provide member states with comprehensive political guidance with regards to the implementation of the European Commission’s action plan for the circular economy. Besides highlighting the importance of the circular economy, the Council also highlights the benefits of extended producer responsibility (EPR) as a means to achieving this goal.

The Commission’s action plan was laid out in March 2020 and is a key element of the European Green Deal. Sustainability is the central goal of the plan, which has 35 action points. The new conclusions from the Council confirm the commitment to sustainability, as well as the proposed measures to achieve it.

EuPC and PlasticsEurope to control pellet loss

The European Plastics Converters (EuPC) and PlasticsEurope associations have agreed to jointly develop a certification system for controlling pellet loss across the whole plastics value chain starting in 2022.

The companies participating in the new system are to be regularly and independently audited for compliance with the requirements of the “Operation Clean Sweep” (OCS) programme. OCS was developed over 25 years ago and offers companies a series of key recommendations for cleaning up their operations.

The leaking of plastic pellets is a problem across all stages of the plastics value chain, damaging not only the environment, but also human health. So far, the OCS programme has gained the support of close to 1,200 signatories, including all PlasticsEurope members to which the pledge is applicable.

More information on the new certification system can be found on the PlasticsEurope website.