Today in Strasbourg local Lib Dem Euro MP demands answers from the Commission on how Europe plans to stop the illegal trade Europe's toxic waste.
It is well documented that European companies have exported their toxic waste to developing countries to avoid the high costs of its disposal in Europe. However, despite the severe consequences for the environment and the health of local communities, as well as increasing public awareness of this issue, the problem seems to be getting worse.
Under European law it is illegal to export toxic waste to non-EU countries with weaker standards for disposal. The Waste Shipments Regulation is left to each EU country to implement individually, but this has lead to inconsistencies on enforcement across the EU.
Ahead of her Parliamentary Question on this issue, Lib Dem Euro MP Catherine Bearder has set out what she wants to hear from the Commission:
"If any of us woke up one morning to find our rich neighbour had dumped its toxic rubbish in our front yard we would be furious, and yet that is what the EU is doing every day."
"Sometimes it is toxic waste produced by big European companies, other times its electronic items from our local recycling dumps that was meant to have been reused."
"Leaving EU countries on their own to interpret rules to restrict toxic waste exports has led to weak links in the European enforcement chain. The Commission must draw up proposals for a Europe-wide, common set of guidelines for inspections so that toxic waste cannot get through any posts on Europe's border."
"Common guidelines will provide enforcement bodies with solid background for the proper implementation and enforcement of the Waste Shipments Regulation. It could also allow the collection and analysis of data that in turn could greatly help to tackle transnational environmental crime linked to illegal waste shipments."
"Africa is not our dustbin!"
- Each year in the EU we throw away 3 billion tons of waste - some 70 million tonnes of it hazardous.
- Almost 70% of electronic waste in the EU is unaccounted for and only 33% of waste electrical and electronic equipment is reported to be treated according to EU legislation.
- The European Commission has stated that the 'reporting on specific incidents/accidents and/or stopped illegal waste shipments is inconsistent and presumably not realistic' (EC, 2009).
- The Waste Shipments Regulation enforces the strict regulation imposed under the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal 1989. The Basel Convention has been ratified by around 56 nations to date. Movements of waste to non-signatories of the Basel Convention are prohibited.
- As most African nations lack awareness of the dangers posed by electronic waste, as well as any electronic waste collection and recycling or disposal systems or programs, almost all of the discarded imported electronic waste is thrown into formal or informal dumpsites.