The European Steel Association (EUROFER) has warned that the current proposal for a regulation on waste shipments lacks “effective measures” to address the environmental challenges of waste exports and to strengthen the EU’s resilience on valuable secondary raw materials.
This threatens to undermine the EU’s circular economy and green deal goals, the association said. EUROFER’s statement follows the presentation of a draft report on the proposals of the European Parliament’s Environment Committee.
Today, 48% of EU steel production is based on scrap and, according to EUFOFER, more will be needed in the years to come as the transition to low-carbon steel production carbon content is accelerating. Yet the EU is exporting more and more waste to third countries with lower environmental, climate, social and labor standards.
As reported by Eurostat, in 2021 the EU’s total exports of ferrous metal scrap reached 19.5 million tonnes, or 48% of all recyclable materials exported. It recorded Turkey as the most popular export destination, with 13.1 million tonnes of ferrous metals exported from the EU.
On the basis of reports highlighting “serious shortcomings” in the treatment of waste from third countries, EUROFER says that the regulation on waste shipments should not automatically grant equivalence of strict European standards to those who have the status of the OECD.
Accordingly, the association urges the introduction of country-level assessment for all export destinations. It is hoped that this assessment “will ensure a level playing field between operators and jurisdictions”.
Speaking on this, Axel Eggert, Director General of the European Steel Association, said: “Why should countries get a free ride just because they have OECD status? ? It does not mean anything.”
To successfully oblige waste exporters to carry out an audit depends on how these audits are carried out, says EUROFER. It is for this reason that the association recommends an efficient and reliable procedure, in order to “ensure reliability and transparency”.
In addition to environmental requirements, EUROFER insisted that social standards be included, as health, safety and working conditions are important aspects of the principle of environmentally sound management.
The steel association also presented the importance of minimizing the “risk of circumvention and illegal shipments of waste by avoiding the reclassification of end-of-life exports of waste”, saying it would undermine “the entire legislative proposal”. .
Axel Eggert also said: “The current provisions on the export of waste are clearly insufficient and will become a missed opportunity for the 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 targets for the internal market – which the EU steel industry fully shares – while millions of tonnes of raw materials Valuable secondary products are 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 metal, if we are to achieve circular economy and climate goals while ensuring EU strategic autonomy and social standards.”
Mr Eggert concluded: “Today’s draft report is a first step, particularly in terms of facilitating intra-EU transport of waste and supporting 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”.