Plastic Waste Shipment (EU)

On 22nd December 2020 the EU adopted new rules on the export, import and intra-EU shipment of plastic waste – here. [these changes are not yet in the CONSLEG consolidated law version uploaded on Cardinal Environment EHS Legislation Registers & Checklist, and the updated law will be added shortly]

The new rules ban the export of plastic waste from the EU to non-OECD countries, except for clean plastic waste sent for recycling. Exporting plastic waste from the EU to OECD countries and imports in the EU will also be more strictly controlled.

The new rules entered into force on 1 January 2021. They apply to exports, imports and intra-EU shipments of plastic waste: [see below per the EU news announcement]

Exports from the EU

• Exporting hazardous plastic waste and plastic waste that is hard to recycle from the EU to non-OECD countries will be banned.

• Exporting clean, non-hazardous waste (which is destined for recycling) from the EU to non-OECD countries will only be authorised under specific conditions. The importing country must indicate which rules apply to such imports to the European Commission. The export from the EU will then only be allowed under the conditions laid down by the importing country. For countries which do not provide information on their legal regime, the “prior notification and consent procedure” will apply.

• Exporting hazardous plastic waste and plastic waste that is hard to recycle from the EU to OECD countries will be subject to the “prior notification and consent procedure”. Under this procedure, both the importing and exporting country must authorise the shipment.

Imports into the EU

• Importing hazardous plastic waste and plastic waste that is hard to recycle into the EU from third countries will be subject to the “prior notification and consent procedure”. Under this procedure, both the importing and exporting country must authorise the shipment.

Intra-EU shipments

• The “prior notification and consent procedure” will also apply to intra-EU shipments of hazardous plastic waste, and of non-hazardous plastic waste that is difficult to recycle.

• All intra-EU shipments of non-hazardous waste for recovery will be exempt from these new controls. 

These new rules amend the EU’s Waste Shipment Regulation (EU Waste Transhipment Regulation) and implement the decision taken by 187 countries in May 2019 at the Conference of the Parties of the Basel Convention. This Basel decision set up a global regime governing international trade in plastic waste for the first time, by including new entries on plastic waste in the Annexes of the Convention.

The EU ban on exports outside the OECD of plastic waste that is difficult to recycle, goes further than the requirements of the Basel Convention.

[Note: the UK is outside the EU, it did update its International Waste Shipment Regulation to incorporate a prior notification and consent process effective 1st Jan 2021 – see Cardinal Environment Registers and Checklists – but it did not implement a ban on exports of plastic waste to non-OECD. DEFRA – The government had “pledged to ban the export of all plastic waste to non-OECD countries”, but no timetable for action exists. Research is commissioned to better understand existing UK plastic waste recycling capacity and DEFRA would consult in due course on how to deliver its manifesto commitments.]

GMO Regulation Changes (England)

In its first Brexit de-regulation foray (of relevance to this blog) – the UK government today seeks views on its plans to change its regulation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in England – here.

The consultation ends on 17 March 2021.

Part 1 of the consultation focuses on the regulation of gene edited (GE) organisms possessing genetic changes which could anyway have been introduced by traditional breeding.

Part 2 of the consultation engages separately and starts gathering views on the wider regulatory framework governing genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Depending on the results of part 1, DEFRA may change the legislation to amend the definition of a GMO as it applies in England. Currently GMOs are defined in section 106 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (amended by the GMO Deliberate Release Regulations). This would mean that the law would not apply to organisms produced by gene editing (GE) and other genetic technologies if they could have been developed using traditional breeding methods. DEFRA’s view is that organisms produced by GE or by other genetic technologies should not be regulated as GMOs if they could have been produced by traditional breeding methods.

The responses from part 2 of the consultation will be used by the UK government to inform policy development and stakeholder engagement plans on any potential wider GMO reform.

On 25 July 2018 the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) clarified that organisms obtained by mutagenesis are genetically modified organisms (GMOs) as defined in the European Directive 18/2001/EC. The journal Nature has a useful summary article on this technical field – here.

Note – the Court also clarified that organisms obtained by mutagenesis techniques which have conventionally been used in a number of applications and have a long safety record are exempt from those obligations, on the understanding that the Member States are free to subject them, in compliance with EU law, to the obligations laid down by the directive or to other obligations.

The ECJ Press Release on the matter is here.

F-Gases and ODS (Northern Ireland from 1 Jan 2021)

DEFRA has today, 15 Oct, issued stipulations for F-Gases and ODS in Northern Ireland – here.

After the end of the transition period, EU regulations will continue to apply to all businesses in Northern Ireland who produce, supply, import, export or use F gases or ODS.

This means two changes for businesses in Northern Ireland:

• Businesses who import and supply the Northern Ireland market with F gases or equipment containing F gas will need to have enough EU quota/authorisations to cover their imports from Great Britain, if they do not already have this. Engineers and end-users, such as equipment manufacturers, installers and supermarkets, working with F gas should ensure they get their F gas from someone that has EU quota.

• F gas and ODS technicians in Northern Ireland will need to qualify for an Irish certificate if they are to continue working in the Republic of Ireland from January 2021. However, they will be able to continue to work in Northern Ireland with their current certificate.

The new free-to-use Trader Support Service will provide support and guidance to businesses moving goods under the Northern Ireland Protocol. Businesses who sign up to the Trader Support Service will be guided through the new processes under the Northern Ireland Protocol and can also use it to complete digital declarations.

Please also read the stipulations that apply to GB, including GB quotas, set out in separate instructions – here.

F-Gases and ODS (GB from 1st Jan 2021)

I posted a few days ago with the stipulations if exports to the EU are rejected. Today, 15th Oct, DEFRA and the Environment Agency issued full instructions on the regulations that will apply in England, Scotland and Wales (Great Britain – GB), for F-Gases and ODS from 1st Jan 2021.

The updated webpage is here.

GB will continue to:

• restrict ODS

• use the same schedule as the EU to phase down HFCs (hydrofluorocarbons, the most common type of F gas) by 79% by 2030 relative to a 2009 to 2012 baseline

That means new GB F gas quotas will follow the same phase down steps as the EU:

• limited to 63% of the baseline in 2019 and 2020

• reducing to 45% of the baseline in 2021

Most of the rules for F gas and ODS will not change. However, new GB IT systems will need to be used to:

• manage new GB quotas

• report on use

EU regulations will still apply for F gas, ODS and products containing them placed on the EU and Northern Ireland market after 1 January 2021.

The Environment Agency will administer the GB system on behalf of England, Scotland and Wales, if it receives the direction of the Scottish and Welsh Governments, from 1 January 2021.

Businesses preparing for 1 January 2021 should continue to work with the Environment Agency to register on the GB system and apply for GB quotas.

Please read the entire webpage, as the above is only part of the stipulations.

Food and Drink Labelling (UK from 1st Jan 2021)

Food and drink producers, manufacturers, retailers and suppliers in Great Britain (GB) must change labels if dealing with the EU from 1 January 2021.

The DEFRA instruction – here – is to contact the EU importer to find out how the EU’s labelling requirements will affect a particular GB export product from 1 Jan 2021.

In the Withdrawal Agreement, a good is ‘placed on the market’ in the EU, when it is first supplied for distribution, consumption, or commercial use, whether free of charge or not.

All food placed on the EU market from 1 January 2021 will need to meet EU rules.

Food business operator (FBO) address

Pre-packaged food and caseins must have an EU or Northern Ireland (NI) address for the FBO, or an address of the EU or NI importer on the packaging or food label.

EU organic logo

The EU organics logo must not be used from 1 January 2021 unless:

• the UK control body is authorised by the EU to certify UK goods for export to the EU

• the UK and the EU agree to recognise each other’s standards (called ‘equivalency’)

Contact the control body to stay up to date.

If the UK and the EU do not reach an equivalency deal, organic food cannot be exported (from GB) to the EU and be labelled organic. Food can still be exported using non-organic labelling if it meets all other marketing standards and any organic labelling is removed or covered.

EU emblem

The EU emblem must not be used on goods produced in Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) from 1 January 2021 unless authorised by the EU to do so.

Health and Identifcation Marks (food products of animal origin – POAO)

Information on POAO health and identification marks that apply from 1st Jan 2021 is here.

Country of origin labels

Food from and sold in NI can continue to use ‘origin EU’ from 1 January 2021.

Food from and sold in GB can be labelled as ‘origin EU’ until 30 September 2022.

From 1 October 2022, food from GB must not be labelled as ‘origin EU’.

Please read further in the DEFRA instruction for specifics of particular animal products, and the use of geographical indicators.

EU Safer Food Package (EU and UK from 1st Jan 2021)

The smarter rules for safer food (SRSF) package is a set of EU regulations for the protection against animal disease and plant pests. The package modernises, simplifies and improves existing health and safety standards for the agri-food chain. It takes a risk-based approach to animal, plant and public health protection, introducing more efficient pest and disease control measures.

The package includes 3 principal EU regulations:

• Official Controls Regulation (EU) 2017/625: how controls across the agri-food chain will be monitored and enforced – applies from 14 December 2019

• Plant Health Regulation (EU) 2016/2031: controls for protecting plants from disease and pests – applies from 14 December 2019

• Animal Health Regulation (EU) 2016/429: a framework for the principles of European animal health – applies from 21 April 2021

The new Official Controls and Plant Health Regulations now apply in the UK. From 1 January 2021, these regulations will be retained by the Withdrawal Act and will continue to apply subject to any amendments Parliament may agree. UK legislation is also enacted.

The new Animal Health Regulation is not applicable until 21 April 2021, after the end of the transition period, and so the UK is not obliged to implement it.

EU Official Controls Regulation 2017/625

The new EU Official Controls Regulation (OCR) was published on 15 March 2017 and will apply in EU member states from 14 December 2019, alongside the Plant Health Regulation.

It sets out mechanisms for ensuring that responsible persons and authorities enforce the rules and must verify that businesses are complying with the legal requirements. It explains what action enforcement authorities must take when they spot such non-compliance. This covers:

• food and food safety, integrity and wholesomeness at any stage of production, processing and distribution of food

• feed and feed safety at any stage of production, processing and distribution of feed and the use of feed

• animal health requirements

• prevention and minimisation of risks to human and animal health emerging from animal by-products and derived products

• welfare requirements for animals

• protective measures against pests of plants

• requirements for the placing on the market and use of plant protection products and the sustainable use of pesticides, with the exception of pesticides application equipment

• organic production and labelling of organic products

• use and labelling of protected designations of origin, protected geographical indications and traditional specialities guaranteed

• deliberate release into the environment of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) for the purpose of food and feed production.

The requirements of the OCR legislation cover how inspections, audits and sampling take place. It simplifies the current rules and makes sure there is consistency across the entire agricultural industry and food chain by including plants and plant products and animal by-products.

The OCR simplifies and brings together several existing control rules. It repeals Regulation 882/2004 and Regulation 854/2004.

Some of the areas changing include:

• extending official controls to plant health and animal by-products

• increasing the transparency of controls carried out by national enforcement authorities

• creating a common framework for carrying out border controls on animals and goods entering or crossing the EU

• strengthening controls to identify fraudulent practices at an early stage

• modernising the computerised systems for the management of data and information on official controls

EU Plant Health Regulation 2016/2031

The EU Plant Health Regulation (PHR) was published on 26 October 2016 and will apply to EU member states from 14 December 2019, alongside the Official Controls Regulation.

The new EU PHR sets out controls and restrictions that will apply to imports and internal movement of certain plants, plant pests, and other materials like soil, to help reduce these risks.

The SRSF package revises and improves the current EU plant health legislation. The PHR repeals Directive 2000/29.

Some of the areas changing include:

• extending the scope and changing the format of plant passporting

• new requirements for authorisation to issue plant passports

• more goods imported to the EU will need a phytosanitary certificate

• new requirements for the registration of professional operators

• movements within the EU – restrictions between disease free and pest free areas

• a strengthened protected zone

• new requirements applying to high risk plants and regulated non quarantine pests (RNQPs)

• a more precautionary approach to new trade flows and a commitment to undertake thorough pest risk assessments

• new category of priority pests, including annual surveying requirements and outbreak contingency planning

EU Animal Health Regulation 2016/429

The EU Animal Health Regulation (AHR) was published on 31 March 2016.

The UK and other EU member states are currently in a 5-year implementation period for AHR. The new rules will apply in EU member states from 21 April 2021.

The AHR outlines the principles of European animal health, supporting:

• a quick reaction in cases of emerging animal diseases and controlling outbreaks as effectively and efficiently as possible

• a consistent approach in dealing with different animal health diseases

• reducing the effect of animal disease outbreaks on animal and public health, animal welfare, the economy and the wider rural community

• functioning of the EU internal market in animals and animal products.

The above is not a full list, please read the contents of the webpage – here.

Further useful information is here.

Note: a plant passport is NOT the same as a phytosanitary certificate.

Plants and Plant Products (UK from 1st Jan 2021)

‘Plant’ means a living plant (including a fungus or tree) or a living part of a plant (including a living part of a fungus or shrub), at any stage of growth.

‘Plant product’ means products of plant origin, unprocessed or having undergone simple preparation, in so far as these are not plants, including wood and bark.

Instructions are issued by DEFRA and APHA for Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland) – here.

We await the instructions for Northern Ireland.

Importing plants and plant products from the EU from 1 January 2021

High-priority plants and plant products from the EU must have:

• a phytosanitary certificate (PC)

• a pre-notification submitted by the importer in England, Scotland or Wales

• documentary and identity checks

• a physical inspection

The importer will pay for these services.

High-priority plants and plant products from the EU that will need a PC from 1 January 2021 include:

• all plants for planting

• ware potatoes

• some seed and timber

• used agricultural or forestry machinery

The importer must pre-notify for imports of solid fuel wood that aren’t regulated. A PC is not required for these imports.

Importing plants and plant products from 1 April 2021

The importer must use the Import of products, animals, food and feed system (IPAFFS) to notify the Animal Plant Health Agency (APHA) or the Forestry Commission that regulated plants and plant products will be imported.

All regulated plants and plant products imported to England, Scotland or Wales from the EU must have phytosanitary certificates (PCs).

APHA will inspect the PCs in England and Wales. The Scottish Government will inspect PCs in Scotland.

Regulated plants and plant products include:

• all plants for planting

• root and tubercle vegetables

• some common fruits other than fruit preserves by deep freezing

• some cut flowers

• some seeds and grains

• leafy vegetables other than vegetables preserved by deep freezing

• potatoes from some countries

• machinery or vehicles which have been operated for agricultural or forestry purposes

Importing plants and plant products from 1 July 2021

Regulated plants and plant products will have extra documentary checks and physical inspections.

The importer must use IPAFFS to notify APHA or the Forestry Commission of the import of regulated plants and plant products.

Movement of wood packaging material

Wood packaging material (WPM) moving between the UK and the rest of the EU can currently move freely without checks or controls.

WPM includes:

• pallets

• crates

• boxes

• cable drums

• spools

• dunnage

From 1 January 2021 all WPM moving between the UK and the EU must meet ISPM15 international standards by undergoing heat treatment and marking. All WPM may be subject to official checks either upon or after entry to the EU.

Checks on WPM will continue to be carried out in the UK on a risk-targeted basis only. The plant health risk from WPM imported from the EU is not expected to change from 1 January 2021.

The above is not a full list, please read the entire webpage with its links – here.

REACH Chemical Legislation (UK Brexit)

On 1 September, DEFRA updated its existing webpage guidance for – How to comply with the EU’s REACH chemical regulations when using, making, selling or importing chemicals in the EU, and how to prepare for 1 January 2021 – here.

Per the webpage –

UK REACH, the UK’s independent chemicals regulatory framework, starts on 1 January 2021. Anyone making, selling or distributing chemicals in the UK and the EU needs to follow UK REACH and EU REACH rules.

UK REACH will maintain EU REACH’s aims and principles. These include:

• the “no data, no market” principle

• the “last resort” principle on animal testing

• access to information for workers

• the precautionary principle

The government intends to extend the deadlines for submitting data under UK REACH transitional provisions subject to scrutiny by parliament and the devolved administrations. This guidance includes these extension dates rather than those currently provided in UK REACH legislation.

Please note the new deadlines in the DEFRA updated webpage.

GB-based companies currently registered with EU REACH will no longer be able to sell into the EEA market without transferring their registrations to an EU/EEA-based organisation. This registration transfer stipulation is set out in the EU instruction notice – here.

Registration transfer to an EU/EEA-based Organisation will not apply in Northern Ireland. We await confirmation on the application of UK REACH in Northern Ireland.

Per the webpage –

Under the Northern Ireland Protocol, the process for Northern Ireland businesses moving goods to and from the European Union under EU REACH will not change from 1 January 2021. Further guidance will be published for NI businesses moving goods into the GB market.

EU REACH registrations held by UK-based companies will carry across directly into UK REACH, legally ‘grandfathering’ the registrations into the new regime.

UK-based holders of existing EU REACH registrations may continue the ‘grandfathering’ process by providing basic information to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) by 30 April 2021.

Holders must complete the grandfathering process within 2, 4 or 6 years of 28 October 2021, depending on their Tonnage Band Deadlines.

Per the webpage –

The information UK-based holders need to provide will be the same or very close to what holders previously provided. Defra will publish any changes to the information needed in September 2020.

Businesses importing chemicals from the EU currently relying on a registration held by an EU/EEA-based company can continue importing substances as they do now on 1 January 2021. They will need to take subsequent actions to ensure that the chemical is registered for UK REACH purposes.

These UK downstream users must notify the HSE using a Downstream User Import Notification (DUIN) of their intention to continue importing substances from the EU/EEA by 27 October 2021.

A new registration must then be submitted to the HSE within 2, 4 or 6 years of 28 October 2021. Alternatively, UK downstream users can encourage their EU/EEA supplier to appoint a UK-based Only Representative (OR), or change their source to a UK registered supplier.

It’s possible to submit DUINs if a chemical is covered by a registration held by an EU/EEA-based OR and then sold into the UK.

The online service ‘Comply with UK REACH’ will go live on 1 January 2021. Businesses can use the service to:

• validate existing UK-held EU registrations (‘Grandfathering’)

• submit downstream user import notifications (DUIN)

• submit new substance registrations

• submit new product and process orientated research and development (PPORD) notifications

Businesses will need to coontact the HSE to ensure that they:

• validate existing UK-held product and process orientated research and development (PPORDs), known as ‘grandfathering’

• provide information on any authorisation matter,including new authorisation application, grandfathering of existing authorisations, and downstream user notifications of authorised uses

The above is NOT a full list of the stipulations in the updated webpage. Please read all parts of the webpage for all instructions.

DEFRA SPS standards (UK from 1st Jan 2021)

Lord Gardiner of Kimble made the following statements concerning the SPS standards regime that will operate from 1st Jan 2021 – (these statements made in the final reading of the Agriculture Bill at the House of Lords)

[note: goods placed on the NI market will need to comply with EU law where it’s listed in the Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol]

(1) The Food Standards Agency and Food Standards Scotland will apply to imports under new free trade agreements. For example, regulated food products will need to pass the FSA’s risk analysis process before being placed on the local market. The FSA has doubled the number of risk assessors since 2017. It can draw on the expertise of 100 scientific experts and support staff and has recruited 35 additional members to its advisory committees. It has also taken wider consumer interest into account, such as the impact on the environment, animal welfare and food security, drawing on appropriate expertise and stakeholders to do so. The expertise of other government departments and agencies will be brought to bear in the risk assessment process, as required, including the Animal and Plant Health Agency and Defra officials.

(2) Equivalence will be considered by experts in the Animal and Plant Health Agency and the Food Standards Agency. The expert advice and evidence on regulated products will then be presented to Ministers and devolved Administrations for a decision on whether these products should be placed on the local market. Secondary legislation would need to be laid before Parliament to authorise new regulated products to be placed on the market.

(3) The functions of audit and inspection, currently carried out by the European Commission, will be repatriated to ensure that trading partners continue to meet local import conditions for food and feed safety, animal and plant health and animal welfare. This will include officials auditing the food production systems and rules of other countries and carrying out inspection visits to facilities in the countries themselves. Verification that requirements are being carried out as stipulated will be conducted through checks at the border. Audits will ensure that trading partners have the necessary infrastructure and regulation in place to export safe food and animal products, which either meet or exceed local import conditions, and will then ensure that these standards are maintained.

(4) The UK Government will take a science-based approach to SPS measures and take their own sovereign decisions on standards and regulations, in line with the principles of the WTO SPS agreement and other relevant internationally recognised guidance.

[Information on the WTO SPS agreement is here – note, it does not of itself set out SPS standards]

(5) Food labelling rules apply to all food intended for supply to final consumers or to caterers. Imported food needs to be fully compliant before it is placed on the local market. The name and address of the local food business, or the importer, will be required on the label from 1st Jan 2021. There are no exceptions to food labelling rules for imported food.

(6) Re Northern Ireland. The withdrawal agreement joint committee met again on 16 July and the Northern Ireland Executive representative again attended, in line with the New Decade, New Approach deal. They exchanged updates on implementation of the protocol and discussed preparatory work for future decisions.

(7) Re quotas that form part of the commitments within the UK goods schedule, which has been lodged at the WTO. The UK has already agreed a common approach with the EU to apportion EU 28 tariff-rate quotas between the UK and EU 27 in order to ensure existing trade flows are maintained. Legislation will be presented by the Treasury later this year under the Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Act 2018 to establish new tariff quotas in UK law.

(8) Re Use of gene editing. Until 2018, there was uncertainty within the EU as to whether the living products of gene editing technology should be subject to the same regulatory framework as genetically modified organisms (GMOs), because the legal definition of a GMO was open to interpretation.

In 2018, the European Court of Justice ruled that gene edited products must be treated in the same way as GMOs, even if the changes to their genetic material could have been produced by traditional methods, such as crossing varieties of the same species and selecting only the improved individuals.

The UK Government is committed to taking a more scientific approach to regulation.

Gene-edited changes to genetic material that would not arise naturally or from traditional breeding methods will still need to be regulated as genetically modified organisms. The UK Government will consult on this issue. Defra is working on the details so that a consultation can be launched in the autumn.

Further details are set out in the Hansard record – here.

Environment Bill (England & UK Brexit)

The Environment Bill returns to the Commons for Second Reading today. It is a slightly different Bill to 2019. Please reprise the posts I wrote in 2019, I summarise the changes (from those posts) below – I had got as far as Water – please find those posts in the Environment Bill category on this blog.

Targets (unchanged from 2019 Bill) – reprising because I didn’t set these out before – England only (targets are within the competencies of devolved legislatures)

– allow government to set long-term targets (of at least 15 years duration) in relation to the natural environment and people’s enjoyment of the natural environment via statutory instrument;

– require government to meet long-term targets, and to prepare remedial plans where long-term targets are not met;

– require government to set, by October 2022, at least one long-term target in each of the priority areas of air quality, water, biodiversity, and resource efficiency and waste reduction;

– require government to set and meet an air quality target for fine particulate matter in ambient air (PM2.5);

– require government to periodically review all environmental targets to assess whether meeting them would significantly improve the natural environment in England.

Note Clause 20 – Clause 20: Reports on international environmental protection legislation (this is unchanged from 2019 Bill, but I did not spell it out before) – this clause places an obligation on the Secretary of State to produce a report on significant developments in international environmental protection legislation, every two years, and lay it before Parliament. England only (competencies are within the competencies of devolved legislatures).

The scope and content of the report will be determined by the Secretary of State – see subsection (5). However, in a given reporting period it could cover: significant developments in the legislation of other countries that are mainly concerned with seeking to protect the natural environment from the effects of human activity or protecting people from the effects of human activity on the environment; legislation on the maintenance, restoration or enhancement of the natural environment; or legislative provisions around monitoring, assessing, considering and reporting and monitoring on these matters. The report will not extend to reviewing or considering the planning systems of other countries.

OEP (Office for Environmental Protection) – unchanged from 2019 Bill – see Blog posts on this – England only (establishing an OEP is within the competencies of devolved legislatures – Scotland indicated it would go this direction see its Environmental Strategy – see my post of yesterday).

Changes to UK REACH – unchanged from 2019 Bill

Waste, Air and Water appear unchanged from the 2019 Bill, and I have Blog posted before about these topics. Nonetheless, I will Blog again re Waste, because this is highly complex and a lot of new processes are announced. Please read the Explanatory Notes – here.

New Blog posts will be made about the rest of the Bill, please look out for those.