International shipments of waste are currently controlled through a process of prior written consent, allowing countries exporting hazardous waste to verify that destination countries are content to accept shipments and the waste can be managed in an environmentally sound manner at its final destination.

EU regulation controls the movement of waste into, within and from Europe, for energy recovery or recycling. It prohibits the shipment of waste for disposal, by landfill or incineration, to countries outside the EU and the European Free Trade Area (EFTA) and the export of hazardous waste to countries that are not members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Shipments of waste for disposal to or from the UK are prohibited unless they fall under specific exceptions, for example if the UK has specialist facilities for disposal that exporting countries do not have.

How processes will change

If the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019 (may also apply to new exit date on 31 December 2020) without a deal, UK-issued import/export licences would no longer be valid for shipments of waste to the remaining 27 EU countries, and licences issued by the EU would no longer be valid for shipments to the UK.

Current approvals to ship notified waste between the UK and the EU beyond the 29 March 2019 (may also apply to new exit date on 31 December 2020) would be subject to a re-approval process. The same applies to waste shipments transiting the EU. There is currently no process set out in the EU Waste Shipment Regulations on how notified shipments that have already been approved by UK and EU competent authorities should be re-approved. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is contacting other member states to discuss arrangements.

In the case of no deal, UK and EU exporters of notified shipments would be advised on the arrangements agreed with the EU.

If you wish to export waste from the UK to another EU country, you would need to familiarise yourself with the customs guidelines the EU has laid down for imports of waste from outside the EU.

The UK government would need to submit a duly reasoned request (DRR) to the relevant EU competent authority explaining why the country does not have and cannot reasonably acquire the appropriate disposal facilities. DRRs for any exports to the EU of waste for disposal before a notification to export could be submitted by a UK exporter to the relevant UK competent authority.

The export of UK waste for disposal is in most cases prohibited so the impact of this additional step would be unlikely to be significant.

EU countries would be prohibited from exporting waste for disposal, or exporting mixed municipal waste for recovery, to the UK under EU law.

Actions you can take now

  1. Consider any changes you may need to make to adapt to new processes and systems.
  2. Read guidance on Maintaining the continuity of waste shipments if there’s no Brexit deal.
  3. The passport rules for travel to most countries in Europe will change if the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019 (may also apply to new exit date on 31 December 2020) without a deal. Read the government’s guidance on Travelling to the EU with a UK passport if there’s no Brexit deal and, if relevant, ensure your employees and customers are aware of the potential changes.
  4. Stay up-to-date with these changes by registering for email alerts. Follow the link, add your email address, select ‘Submit’, select ‘Add subscription’ and choose ‘EU Exit’ then select ‘Submit’.
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