EUROFER warns of the shortcomings to current Waste Shipment Regulations

The European Steel Association (EUROFER) has warned that the current Waste Shipment Regulation proposal lacks ‘effective measures’ to tackle environmental challenges of waste exports and to enhance EU resiliency on valuable secondary raw materials.

scrapmetalThis threatens to undermine the EU’s Circular Economy and Green Deal objectives, the association has said. EUROFER’s statement followed the presentation of a draft report on the proposals by the Environment Committee at the European Parliament.

Today, 48 per cent of EU steel production is based on scrap, and according to EUFOFER, more will be needed in the coming years as the transition to low carbon steel production accelerates. Yet, the EU is increasingly exporting waste to third countries with lower environmental, climate, labour and social standards.

As reported by Eurostat, in 2021 the EU total export of ferrous metals scrap reached 19.5 million tonnes – constituting 48 per cent of all exported recyclable materials. It recorded Turkey as the most popular export destination, with 13.1 million tonnes of ferrous metal exported from the EU.

Based on reports evidencing the ‘serious shortcomings’ in the waste treatment of third countries, EUROFER states that the Waste Shipment Regulation should not automatically grant equivalence of strict EU standards to those with OECD status.

As a result, the association is urging the introduction of a country level assessment for all export destinations. It is hoped that this assessment will ‘ensure a level-playing field across operators and jurisdictions.’

Speaking on this, Axel Eggert, Director General of the European Steel Association, said: “Why should countries get a free ride only because they have OECD status? This does not make any sense.”

To successfully oblige waste exporters to conduct an audit depends on how those audits are carried out, EUROFER says. It is for this reason the association recommends an effective and reliable procedure, to ‘ensure trustworthiness and transparency.’

As well as environmental requirements, EUROFER has urged that social standards be included, as health, safety and labour conditions are important aspects of the Environmentally Sound Management principle.

The steel association also presented the importance of minimising the ‘risk of circumvention and illegal waste shipments by avoiding the reclassification of exports as end-of-waste’, stating that this would undermine the ‘entire legislative proposal.’

Axel Eggert also said: “The current provisions on waste export are clearly insufficient and bound to become a missed opportunity for climate, industry, citizens and the EU as a whole.

“We are in an absurd situation where the EU sets very high environmental standards and circular economy objectives for the internal market – that the EU steel industry fully shares – while millions of tons of valuable secondary raw materials are being exported to jurisdictions where these same standards and objectives are not met.

“We cannot afford to give away a key secondary raw material such as scrap, if we want to fulfil the circular economy and climate objectives as well as ensuring EU strategic autonomy and social standards.”

Mr. Eggert concluded: “Today’s draft report is a first step, especially regarding the facilitation of intra EU shipment of waste and the support for 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”.