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Transfrontier shipment of waste

Transfrontier shipment of waste

Economic growth and globalisation have led to a worldwide increase of waste transports across borders, whether by road, rail, air or sea. Waste shipments can create risks for human health and the environment and is a regulated activity. 

Exporting plastic waste - Changes to Basel convention coming into force 1 January 2021

The Basel Convention on the control of Transboundary Movement of Hazardous wastes is the international convention that governs the movement of hazardous waste, to which the UK is a Party.

On 1 January 2021, new entries to Annexes II, VIII and IX of the Basel Convention will become effective. These amendments will strengthen the controls for the export of plastic wastes.

For more information please read the new guidance.

How is transfrontier shipment of waste regulated?

The European Community first introduced a directive on control procedures for the shipment of hazardous waste in 1984, when it became apparent that hazardous waste from developed countries was being exported and dumped in developing countries.

The Basel Convention of 1989 established worldwide notification requirements for the movement of hazardous waste and required those involved to minimise the generation of such waste and to ensure its environmentally sound management.

Regulations governing transfrontier shipment of waste (TFS) were finalised by two further pieces of European legislation and is now implemented in the UK by the Transfrontier Shipment of Waste Regulations 2007, which detail the UK procedures, offences, penalties and relevant enforcement authorities. The UK Plan on Shipments of Waste sets out Government policy in relation to imports and exports for disposal.

We have produced a range of guidance which provide further information on the principles determining transfrontier shipment of waste (TFS):

Do the regulations apply to me?

If you are involved in the import or export of waste from the UK, you need to be aware that shipments of waste are subject to a range of regulatory controls.

Our rough guide to import and export controls gives a general summary of which shipments the different controls apply to.

Hazardous waste and waste destined for recovery in a developing country is generally subject to notification procedures. This requires the prior written consent of all relevant authorities of dispatch, transit and destination.

Notification controls apply to all allowed imports and exports of:

  • hazardous waste for recovery operations;
  • some non-hazardous waste for recovery operations to non-OECD countries.

What do I do next?

If you are submitting an application for notification to export hazardous waste or waste destined for recovery wastes, we strongly recommend you contact us by emailing Transfrontier@sepa.org.uk in the first instance.

Applicants can now contact the team directly on Transfrontier@sepa.org.uk to notify SEPA of urgent applications. Please be aware the processing of applications is taking longer than normal.

We are prioritising applications based on scale and proximity of environmental, financial and contractual impacts that delays in processing the applications would result in.

Imports of sealed radioactive sources to the UK from the EU still need a prior written declaration to be made before shipments can take place.

For radioactive sources, please complete the form Shipping radioactive sources between the UK and EU - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) and then contact us (Please do not use the previous RSA Notification Mailbox).

If this delay is likely to cause an adverse impact to the environment or communities contact us

What is ‘green list’ (non-hazardous) waste?

Green list (non-hazardous) waste can be shipped for recovery within Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries under a lower level of control and accompanied by certain information.

The shipment of non-hazardous waste to non-OECD countries depends on which classification of waste the importing country accepts and which procedures it wants to apply.

Other types of non-hazardous waste may require notification controls and others may be prohibited shipments.

How do TFS regulations apply to green list waste?

You are not required to obtain our written permission if you intend to export waste under green list controls to OECD countries, but you must submit an Annex VII form and ensure it accompanies your waste.

We have produced guidance entitled Exporting recyclable waste for recovery in non-OECD countries, which provides specific guidance on the procedures to be followed when exporting waste under green list controls to non-OECD countries.

The guidance also contains useful information on procedures for importing or exporting waste under green list controls from other countries.

In addition, we have produced a number of short presentations which provide more information on the rules on green list shipments from Scotland:

Contact us

For more help or information on any aspect of TFS, please contact us by emailing Transfrontier@sepa.org.uk.