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Status of and legislation on the transboundary shipment of waste


Essentially, the domestic disposal principle applies as far as "waste for disposal" is concerned in the Member States of the European Union. Exemptions are possible if there are no suitable facilities for the disposal of a specific type of waste in a country or if it is practical to use foreign facilities close to the border.

"Waste for disposal" is regarded as an economic asset. As a matter of principle, suitable waste can also be recovered in other countries. Under current German law, however, it is subject to restrictions that relate to its components and the country of destination.

Basel Convention

Since 20 July 1995, Germany has been a contracting party to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal of 22 March 1989, which entered into force on 5 May 1992 and to which over 180 states have now acceded. The Convention established rules on the permissibility and control of exports of hazardous waste that are followed all over the world. Transboundary movements of waste require the consent of the competent authorities of the state of export, all states of transit and the state of import.

The Convention is intended, in particular, to protect states that do not possess the necessary technical capacities to deal with hazardous waste.

OECD decision on movements of wastes destined for recovery operations

OECD Council Decision C(2001)107/FINAL has been adopted amending Decision C(92)39 Concerning the Control of Transfrontier Movements of Wastes Destined for Recovery Operations.

Regulation on shipments of waste

Regulation (EC) Number 1013/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 June 2006 on shipments of waste amended Regulation (EEC) Number 259/93 on the supervision and control of shipments of waste within, into and out of the European Community. The new Regulation has been in force since 12 July 2007. Firstly, it adjusted European legislation to take account of developments under the United Nations Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, and the OECD Decision on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Wastes Destined for Recovery Operations of 2001. Secondly, the experience gained in applying the previous Regulation was drawn on to make fundamental improvements to the legal requirements in place.

A series of Correspondents’ Guidelines were adopted on the implementation of Regulation (EC) Number 1013/2006. The implementation and further development of Regulation (EC) Number 1013/2006 is discussed at the European level, in particular during meetings of the correspondents and the Technical Adaptation Committee.

Regulation concerning the export of non-hazardous waste to non-OECD countries

Apart from the European Regulation on waste shipments, this field is governed by Commission Regulation (EC) Number 1418/2007 of 29 November 2007 concerning the export for recovery of certain waste listed in Annex III or IIIA to Regulation (EC) Number 1013/2006 to certain countries to which the OECD Decision on the control of transboundary movements of wastes does not apply.

Customs offices designated for waste shipments into and from the EU

A list of the customs offices designated for the entry of waste shipments into and their exit from the European Community has been published and is updated regularly every year.

Bilateral agreements and arrangements

Germany has concluded the a bilateral agreement, which entered into force on 15 February 2000, with Kosovo (KFOR/NATO) in accordance with Article 11 of the Basel Convention. Further information on bilateral and multilateral agreements and arrangements is available of the website of the Basel Convention

German Law

1. Waste Shipment Act

Supplementary provisions for the Federal Republic of Germany have been laid down since 1994 by the Waste Shipment Act. The act replacing the Waste Shipment Act and amending other legislation (of which the amended version of the Waste Shipment Act is an essential component part) entered into force on 28 July 2007. The new version of the Waste Transportation Act was made necessary by Regulation (EC) Number 1013/2006. 

2. Ordinance on fines for illegal waste shipments

The Waste Shipment Fines Ordinance sets out the legal foundations for the imposition of fines for contraventions of the provisions of Regulation (EC) Number 1013/2006 on shipments of waste.

3. Guideline for the implementation of Regulation (EC) Number 1013/2006 and the Waste Shipment Act

A guidance document on the implementation of the European and German legislation concerning shipments of waste was drawn up by the Federation/Länder Working Group on Waste (LAGA).

4. Customs provisions

A guidance on cooperation between customs authorities and waste authorities regarding the shipment of waste was adopted by the Federation/Länder Working Group on Waste (LAGA).

5. Catalogue of fines

LAGA adopted a catalogue of fines imposed for offences committed in relation to the shipment of waste.

Wastes shipped illegally from Germany

There have been cases of waste being shipped illegally from Germany. Total monitoring of the borders is not possible in view of the scale on which goods are transported internationally. ‘Waste traffickers’ frequently make use of an impenetrable web of trading relationships and business names. In many cases, the authorities succeed in identifying the individual or individuals in Germany who are responsible and calling them to account.

Last updated: 23.02.2023

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