Svenska Järns remissvar på EU kommissionens förslag till reviderad förordning om transporter av avfall COM (2021) 709
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Svenska Järn- och Metallskrothandlareföreningen (The Swedish Iron and Metal Scrap Traders’ Association) hereby submits our response to the “REGULATION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL on shipments of waste and amending Regulations (EU) No 1257/2013 and (EU) No 2020/1056”.
Svenska Järn- och Metallskrothandlareföreningen (The Swedish Iron and Metal Scrap Traders’ Association, Henceforth called “Svenska Järn”) is an 91 years old association with 60 member companies, most of them in Sweden. The association’s mission is to protect the members financial and business technical interests in handling RMR and to work for a healthy development of the trade of and processing of RMR, such as ferrous and non-ferrous scrap, and other recyclable material.
Svenska Järn is looking forward to the revision of WSR, whose burdensome procedures today are a major obstacle to the creation of a well-functioning EU market for RMR. Svenska Järn is also very supportive to the measures aiming at curbing exports of non-processed waste, such as electronic waste (WEEE), end-of-life vehicles (ELVs), whole tyres, or mixed plastic packaging to non-EU countries lacking the infrastructure for proper treatment. We also find this revision to be a possibility to have a more uniform interpretation of the legislation of WSR within the whole union. But we also see predominant risks which will have a major negative impact on our industries’ possibility to recycle material and hence also on the environment. As we see it the current revision will lead to an export ban and we therefore suggest some changes so that recycling can continue playing a crucial role in achieving the global climate goals for the EU.
Comments on the form of the proposals and the inquiry:
We consider the proposed restrictions for exports to countries outside the EU to be export bans for a variety of materials. We understand that the purpose with these restrictions is to limit the risk of exporting waste which can not be handled in an environmentally friendly way and thus not recycled properly in third countries.
As the EU lacks harmonized criteria or a correct status for raw materials from recycling (RMR), the vast majority of waste streams fail to distinguish between unprocessed waste and RMR that meet quality specifications / standards for production processes. This entails a great risk as there is no legal difference between unprocessed waste, which can pose a risk to human health and the environment if they are exported incorrectly outside the EU and RMR which replaces extracted raw material in production and thus bring significant environmental benefits in the form of resource efficiency, greenhouse gasses and energy savings wherever they are used. This will lead to enormous negative consequences for the competitiveness of the EU recycling industry but also for achieving the global environmental goals. In order to achieve the goals, the measures only need to be focused on waste streams of lower quality that cannot be recycled in a correct manner.
On the other hand we are positive about the great ambition to push through Electronic Data Interchange for all documentation requirements regarding waste transports, protection and increased status periods for pre-approved facilities. However, further efforts are needed when it comes to classifying waste in order to make transport between Member states function for a circular economy, rather than to block it.
We support the overall goal of ensuring that the EU does not export its waste challenges to third countries, but we are critical of how the goal is implemented in the proposed legislation. The measures, especially against countries outside the OECD are as we see it export restrictions that will lead to export bans. What is even more unfortunate is that this is openly recognized as a restriction on green-listed waste, which by definition is clean waste. The way we see it there must be a greater difference in the proposal between RMR, which are high-quality raw materials from the recycling processes, such as ferrous- and non-ferrous metal scrap, and waste of much lower quality that has an impact on the environment and human health. More importantly is that the focus of the surveillance of exports outside the OECD and the export bans should only be limited to lower quality waste streams.
For countries outside the OECD the mixture of a list of permitted exporting countries with audit requirements for all types of green-listed waste is excessive and will lead to a comprehensive export ban for all waste even for RMR. The list should be simplified to an obligation similar to that of regulation 1418/2007. Audits can be part of the legislation to prove that EU operators follow compliance when accessing markets outside the EU with their high quality RMR.
The way in which this future waste limitation can be implemented is extremely general and all-encompassing within the proposed revision. We believe that it is of the utmost importance that a differentiation is made between high-quality materials (RMR) and lower-quality waste. We advocate that the monitoring of OECD waste shipments be limited to lower quality waste only. When reading this proposal, it is clear that the focus is on stopping the export of mixed plastics waste that ends up in countries outside the OECD where it is sent to landfill, as runoff and then ends up in the environment. It is obvious that this is a huge environmental impact that needs to be addressed. However, it is here that a difference is required for high quality materials, such as RMR.
Svenska Järns member companies would be delighted if they could transport and sell more of their RMR within the EU, as it would save a large administrative burden and reduce transport costs. However, it is advantageous to export some RMR outside the EU due to the simple fact that there is insufficient demand from EU producers and a total lack of measures (such as targets for recycled content for all waste streams except for certain polymers under the SUP directive) – while the demand is greater for such raw materials in countries outside the OECD. Also if there’s no import ban on waste and RMR the recyclers in the EU will be double punished with the new regulation as they can not sell to markets outside the EU but are competing with markets outside the union when selling the RMR in the EU.
There should be less focus on implementing regulations which will lead to export bans on RMR and instead focus on the producers to increase their share of RMR in their circular production processes.
Finally we would recommend and would like to see that a new revision is sent out where RMR are considered separately from waste with a regulatory framework for the recycling of ferrous and non-ferrous scrap