News article

Brexit: Importing and exporting waste

5 February 2020

Waste trading businesses must prepare for changes to rules around waste shipments from 1 January 2021

From 1 January 2021, the UK will become a third (non-EU) country.

You need to prepare for the following changes.

Consented notifications to ship waste between the UK and the EU

The UK government has secured an agreement that all UK consents for shipments of notifiable waste that go beyond 31 October 2019 will be rolled over.

This follows the process set out by the European Commission (EC) in the notice Withdrawal of the UK and EU waste law issued on 8 November 2018.

Notified waste shipments from the UK to the EU

From 1 January 2021, the UK will remain a:

  • party to the Basel Convention
  • member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)

The UK will be treated the same way as any other OECD country or any country party to the Basel convention that intends to export waste to an EU country. The current waste shipments procedures will still apply.

If you are an exporter, you will need to make yourself aware of the EU customs guidelines and the EU Waste Shipment Regulations. These explain the rules for EU waste imports from outside the EU.

They require:

  • waste exporters to complete waste notification and waste movement forms with details of the Customs Office of Entry into the EU and, if relevant, the Customs of Exit from the EU
  • waste carriers to provide a copy of the waste movement document to the Customs Office of Entry into the EU
  • UK exporters to check that any transport of waste within the EU is by appropriately authorised waste carriers

You’ll need authorisation for each EU country you transport waste through or into, as acceptance of waste carrier registrations can vary between countries. Requirements can differ for waste carriers from outside the EU or European Free Trade Association (EFTA) area.

The requirements you need to meet to be authorised to carry waste in certain EU Member States may change from 1 January 2021. Contact the authority responsible for waste in the country you’re transporting waste to or through to find out about the authorisation process.

Before you submit a notification to export waste to the EU for disposal, the UK government must submit a duly reasoned request (DRR) to the relevant EU competent authority. The DRR must explain why the UK does not have, or cannot acquire the required disposal facilities. You will not be able to submit a notification to export until that DRR is approved. Exports of UK waste for disposal are prohibited, apart from a few exceptions. The impact of the new requirement to submit a DRR will therefore be minimal.

Waste shipments from the EU to the UK

EU countries will not be allowed to export waste for disposal, or export mixed municipal waste for recovery, to the UK under EU law.

The rules for shipping non-notified waste for recycling under the Green List Control procedures will stay the same.

UK exporters should check that any transport of waste within the EU is by appropriately authorised waste carriers.

If you’re a UK businesses and want to import waste from the EU to the UK, you should be aware of the: