Fortum calls for stronger enforcement and improvements of the Waste Shipment Regulation

Fortum supports the objectives of the Waste Shipment Regulation (WSR) to a great extent but would suggest an extended scope and additional topics to be addressed within each objective.

Fortum Waste Solutions is one of the major waste management companies in the EU and a player in the transition to a circular economy within EU through its waste treatment, decontamination of waste streams and recycling of waste to generate valuable secondary raw materials. In addition, we offer remediation of contaminated sites and supplies cities with recovered energy. In doing so, we save natural resources and prevent waste that can harm the environment and human health from ending up where it should not.

Fortum has submitted its extended views on the policy objectives via the expert stakeholder questionnaire regarding the Waste Shipment Regulation Impact Assessment – Public Consultation (May 2020)

Below is a summary of our views. The whole policy paper is available here.

First policy objective: the WSR should support the transition to a circular economy in the EU more effectively

The preamble to the WSR states: “The main and predominant objective and component of this Regulation is the protection of the environment, its effects on international trade being only incidental.”  This objective should remain the overall and primary aim of the Regulation. The main purpose of the WSR is therefore not to support the transition to a circular economy within the EU. At the same time, the WSR should not create unnecessary obstacles for that transition; rather, as far as possible, it should facilitate the transports of waste, not only green-listed, for recovery and use as secondary raw material, while maintaining a high level of environmental protection.  Possible measures to achieve this within the framework of the review of the WSR are:

  • Address waste leakage from the EU. This is one of the root causes of the lack of investments in recycling capacity in the EU. Addressing this concern and making “recycled in the EU” a benchmark for high-quality secondary materials would significantly promote investments in recycling and help transition to the EU’s circular economy.
  • The free trade on the internal market supporting circular economy activities, including shipments of waste between Member States, requires EU legislation to be adequately and equally enforced.
  • Introduce separate rules for transports of waste destined for the testing of recovery technologies.  This would facilitate investments in innovative and additional treatment capacity for recovery.
  • A facilitated notification procedure for non-hazardous waste for recovery, for which currently the same notification procedure applies as for hazardous waste. This includes unlisted waste and waste that requires special consideration according to the Basel convention.
  • Recognise the importance of decontamination of material cycles in the WSR. One well established decontamination technology is waste incineration applying Best Available Techniques.
  • Facilitate the procedure for renewal of an existing consent for transports under the same conditions as in the previous consent.
  • Allow changes in amounts for an existing valid consent for recovery so that the need for a renewal can be postponed.
  • Ensure that the concept with pre-consented recovery facilities, which allows consents for transports for three years instead of one, is accepted and applied in all Member States and that the permit process for pre-consented facilities is facilitated.
  • Introduce an EU-wide harmonised electronic system for waste shipment procedures. Such a system should include a common reporting system for the traceability of hazardous waste as well as registration of the carriers holding the necessary permits for waste transports within the EU.
  • Allow two different routes, including different means of transport, in the same notification.
  • Introduce common templates for notification contracts between the notifier and the consignee, accepted by competent authorities in all Member States.
  • Require all consents/objections provided by authorities to be also provided in the national language of the notifier or as an English-language version. 

Together, many of these measures would reduce unnecessary administrative burdens for the companies and the competent authorities involved. History has shown that the measures cannot be achieved on a voluntary basis in each Member State; therefore, changes to the articles in the WSR are necessary. 

Second policy objective: Restrict the export of EU waste to third countries

The export of waste to third countries outside the EU shall be subject to equally high environmental and human health protection requirements and controls as waste transports within the EU. If this cannot be ensured, no export shall be supported or allowed.

Third policy objective: Strengthen the enforcement of the Waste Shipment Regulation’s provisions

A strengthening in the enforcement of the Waste Shipment Regulation’s provisions can be seen from different perspectives. A focus on illegal shipments/treatments, as addressed in the Public consultation, is one important aspect strongly supported by Fortum. But stronger enforcement of the WSR-specified time limits for transmissions, acknowledgements and consents/objections by competent authorities for legal transports is also necessary. This might even support fighting illegal transports.

Delays by authorities in the approval procedure for written notifications are very common. This violates the rules of the regulation. The time limits specified in the WSR for written notifications are: three working days for transmission/acknowledgement of a notification or request for additional information by the competent authorities; and 30 days for their decision on whether to object to shipments or to give their consent. These time limits are regularly exceeded by the authorities, without any viable reason and without incurring consequences. The ones negatively affected by these violations are the parties involved in the notification. Not only does it make planning difficult, but the delay can also shorten the valid periods for the consent since many authorities are not willing to adjust the shipping period to start on the day the consent is issued – even if the WSR gives them this possibility.

Download the policy paper here.

Martina Melander

Martina Melander
Public Affairs Manager, Circular Economy
Tel: +46 703 757 864
martina.melander@fortum.com