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Waste shipments

EU rules on the shipment of waste within and beyond EU borders, to protect the environment and public health.


€18.5 billion
worth of EU waste exports in 2023
35.1 million tonnes
of EU waste exported in 2023
is the main destination for EU waste

Objectives and aims

Since 1993, EU law on the shipment of waste includes rules for transporting waste across borders. Two Regulations, one in 1993 and another in 2006, have implemented the obligations of the Basel Convention (1989) on the control of transboundary movements of hazardous wastes and their disposal. The EU rules also transpose the provisions of the OECD decision (2001) establishing a control system for waste shipments for recovery within the OECD area.

Recently, the EU rules on waste shipments, both within the EU and with regard to imports and exports of waste to and from it, were modernised and updated.

The new Regulation on waste shipments was adopted on 11 April 2024 and entered into force on 20 May 2024. It aims to:

  • Ensure that the EU does not export its waste challenges to third countries and contributes to environmentally sound management of waste.
  • Strengthen enforcement to prevent illegal shipments of waste occurring within the EU, as well as from the EU to third countries.
  • Increase traceability of shipments of waste within the EU and facilitating recycling and re-use. 

Waste shipment rules

See below for the varying rules between different areas.

Obligations of waste exporters

  • Companies exporting waste from the EU will have to demonstrate that the waste exported is properly managed in the facility that manages the waste in the recipient country. 
  • Companies must ensure that independent audits are carried out in the facilities to which they ship waste, demonstrating that those facilities manage waste in an environmentally sound manner. In the absence of a positive audit, the companies must stop exporting their waste to the facility concerned. 

Monitoring of illegal waste shipments

  • An EU ‘waste shipment enforcement group’ will be established to increase cooperation and coordination against illegal shipments of waste, comprising environmental, customs, police and other relevant national inspection authorities, as well as European and international law enforcement networks. 
  • The Commission will be empowered through its anti-fraud office - OLAF - to support transnational investigations by EU Member States on waste trafficking. 
  • Third countries will be supported in fighting waste trafficking through various channels of international cooperation. 

Plastic waste export rules

Shipments of plastic waste are subject to a specific regime.

Any authorised export of plastic waste outside the EU will be subject to the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure, a key provision of the Basel Convention.


Key dates related to the Waste Shipments Regulation

  1. May 2027
    New rules on exports start to apply
  2. November 2026
    Plastic waste exports to non-OECD countries banned
  3. May 2026
    New provisions (except on exports) start to apply
  4. 20 May 2024
    New Waste Shipments Regulation entered into force
  5. 11 April 2024
    New Waste Shipments Regulation is adopted
  6. 27 February 2024
    European Parliament approves new Regulation on waste shipments.
  7. 17 November 2023
    Trilogue negotiations conclude with a provisional agreement
  8. 17 November 2021
    Commission adopts proposal for a new Regulation on waste shipments
  9. 20 October 2021
    Regulation (EU) 2021/1840 is adopted, updating Regulation (EC) No 1418/2007 on the export of green-listed waste to non-OECD countries
  10. 01 January 2021
    EU rules on plastic waste shipments enter into force
  11. 11 March 2020
    Inception Impact Assessment on the evaluation of the Waste Shipment Regulation published
  12. 31 January 2020
    Commission Staff Working Document on the evaluation of Waste Shipment Regulation published
  13. 14 June 2006
    Waste Shipments Regulation enters into force


Following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, the Commission has published a Brexit Readiness Notice for Waste Shipments


Find more information about the regulation's implementation here.