EU moves to restrict plastic waste exports

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The European Union will ban the export of unsorted plastic waste from the bloc to developing countries from January 1, following concerns about increased pollution.

Plastic exports will also be "more strictly controlled" the European Commission announced on Tuesday.

The new rules still allow for "clean plastic waste sent for recycling" to be exported to countries that are not part of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Following China's ban on plastic imports at the beginning of 2018 - previously a major destination for plastic waste - plastic trade has shifted to other countries in Asia.

With a lack of sufficient recycling facilities established in those countries, the EU's exports sparked criticism from environmentalists, who claim that much of the bloc's waste ends up in oceans or being burned in open fires.

"These new rules send a clear message that in the EU we are taking responsibility for the waste we generate," Environment Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius said.

"The export of unsorted plastic waste to non-OECD countries will be completely banned."