Stop the export of waste and scrap metal to countries that do not meet EU environmental and social standards, asks EUROFER

The current proposal for a Waste Shipment Regulation lacks effective measures to address the environmental challenges of waste exports and to build EU resilience on valuable secondary raw materials, risking undermining EU waste targets. circular economy and green pact, warns the European Steel Association (EUROFER) on the occasion of the presentation of the draft report by the Environment Committee in the European Parliament.

“The current provisions on the export of waste are clearly insufficient and are sure to become a missed opportunity for the climate, industry, citizens and the EU as a whole”, said Axel Eggert, Director General of the European Steel Association (EUROFER). “We are in an absurd situation where the EU sets very high environmental standards and circular economy targets for the internal market – which the EU steel industry fully shares – while millions of tonnes of materials Valuable secondary raw materials are exported to jurisdictions where these same standards and targets are not met.We cannot afford to give away a key secondary raw material such as scrap metal, if we are to achieve circular economy targets and as well as guaranteeing the EU’s strategic autonomy and social standards”, he underlined.

Already today, 48% of EU steel production is based on scrap, and more will be needed in the years to come as the transition to low-carbon steel production continues. ‘accelerated. However, the EU is increasingly exporting its waste to third countries with lower environmental, climate, social and labor standards. According to Eurostat, total ferrous metal waste exports from the EU reached 19.5 million tonnes in 2021, representing 48% of all recyclable materials exported. Turkey was the top export destination, with 13.1 million tonnes of ferrous metals exported from the EU.

In particular, the Waste Shipment Regulation should not automatically grant equivalence of these strict European standards to all third countries with OECD status, as reports have highlighted serious shortcomings in the treatment of waste in some of them. Therefore, an appropriate country-level assessment should be introduced for all export destinations. This would also help to ensure a level playing field between operators and jurisdictions. “Why should countries get a free ride just because they have OECD status? It makes no sense,” says Mr. Eggert.

The obligation for waste exporters to carry out an audit is the most innovative part of the proposal, but its success depends on how the audits will be carried out. This is why an efficient and reliable procedure is necessary to ensure reliability and transparency.

Social standards should also be included with environmental requirements, as health, safety and working conditions are essential aspects of the principle of environmentally sound management. Finally, it is also crucial to minimize the risk of circumvention and illegal shipments of waste by avoiding the requalification of end-of-life waste exports, as this would completely undermine the entire legislative proposal.

“Today’s draft report is a first step, particularly in terms of facilitating intra-EU transport of waste and supporting research and development. However, we encourage the Environment Committee to consider significant improvements also with regard to waste exports to third countries, supporting a sound environmental policy,” concluded Mr Eggert.
Source: EUROFER