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Sustainable waste management: this is what the European Union does |  Material

Sustainable waste management: this is what the European Union does | Material

The European Union also exports some of its waste. The year 2022 has reached The European Union exports waste to countries outside the European Union To 32.1 million tons, a 3 percent decrease compared to 2021.

The majority of waste exported outside the EU (55%) consists of scrap ferrous and non-ferrous metals, most of which goes to Turkey. The union also exports a lot of waste paper (15%), mostly to India.

In 2022, 39 percent of EU waste went to Turkey (12.4 million tons), followed by India (3.5 million tons), the United Kingdom (2.0 million tons), Norway (1.6 million tons) and Switzerland (1.6 million tons).

The European Union wants to tackle illegal exports and ensure that waste is treated in an environmentally friendly manner in recipient countries. In February 2024, Parliament approved stricter rules for waste shipments to third countries. The rules will ban the export of plastic waste to non-OECD countries and impose stricter conditions on exports to OECD countries. Transferring waste to another EU country will only be possible under exceptional circumstances.

Parliament's work to achieve a circular economy

In October 2022, Parliament approved a review of persistent organic pollutants rules to reduce the amount of hazardous chemicals in waste and production processes. The new rules will impose stricter limits, ban some chemicals and prevent recycling of pollutants.

In February 2021, Parliament voted on a new Circular Economy Action Plan, calling for further measures to achieve a carbon-neutral, environmentally sustainable, non-toxic and fully circular economy by 2050. The plan includes stricter recycling rules and binding targets for material use. and material consumption by 2030.

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In November 2023, Parliament adopted its negotiating position on the review of EU rules on packaging and packaging waste. MEPs want to ban the sale of ultra-light plastic carrier bags, set specific targets to reduce waste in plastic packaging, encourage reuse and repackaging options and ban persistent pollutants used in food packaging.

More facts, figures and infographics about waste: