The EU intends to restrict waste material exports but the move may hamper trade and international relations, according to the Bureau of International Recycling (BIR) and Members of the European Parliament (MEP).
The revised regulations aim to limit exports of materials that may be described as waste, which includes many high-speculation materials produced by the recycling industry.
Olivier François of Galloo, chairman of the BIR’s International Environment Council, highlighted on June 1, that the new rules could create tension as many developing countries rely on secondary raw material exports.
A representative of the European Recycling Industries Confederation (Euric) pointed out that Europe does not need more export curbs since it already has excessive amounts of quality secondary raw materials domestic markets cannot handle.
On the production side, MEPs noted that, in 2019, the EU-27 exported 15mn mt of ferrous scrap, compared to 9mn mt in 2015. These volumes were exported primarily to countries with climate, work, and safety requirements lower than those of the EU, causing negative environmental consequences that could have been avoided by recycling the same volumes within the 27 nations of the Union. European green steel production, which reduces carbon emissions, is lessened by these exports.
The proposed solution is that users in importing countries should operate similarly to consumers in the EU regarding human health and environmental protection. The Euric spokesperson urged that shipments to OECD and non-OECD countries should be differentiated, as the former adhered to very similar standards to those applied in the EU.
A BIR Trade & Environment spokesperson explained that relevant companies will be surveyed later this year to assess how costly installing and running systems to detect radioactive metals is. He added that the recycling industry has taken on costs regarding radioactive sources lost or misplaced mostly by other industries and products with contaminating chemicals that are not allowed to be recycled.