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Legal expertise
for the benefit of the railways

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The difficulties and challenges of international rail transport of waste

Since its participation in the UIC RID Expert Group in November 2022 in Wiesbaden, CIT has seen the need for several members to actively deal with the subject of international rail transport of waste and the many problems encountered by carriers. The highlight of many of the bilateral exchanges was a presentation of the regulatory framework and possible temporary solutions targeted by CIT for this kind of transport, which presents a number of particularities.

The waste regulation

Unlike the international carriage of dangerous goods, COTIF makes no particular provision for the international carriage of waste. The regulations governing the international shipment of waste can be summarised in two main legal layers: the Basel Convention and Regulation (EC) 1013/2006. At international level, we have the United Nations Basel Convention from 1989 which restricts the transfer of hazardous waste from developed to less developed countries. The Convention provides a framework for, and limits the transboundary movements of, waste. It calls to observe fundamental principles such as proximity of waste disposal and environmentally sound management. The Basel Convention provides that each Party involved in the international transport of waste shall require that wastes be accompanied by a movement document from the point at which a transboundary movement commences to the point of disposal. The obligations of the rail carrier concerning the transport documents in the context of waste movements are also based on Article 4 and Annex V B of the Convention. European Regulation (EC) 1013/2006 has been applicable since July 2007 and establishes procedures and control regimes for the shipment of waste, depending on the origin, destination and route of the shipment, the type of waste shipped and the type of treatment to be applied to the waste at its destination on the territory of the EU Member States, in transit, and for import from or export to third countries.

Waste management: focus on a burdensome documentation procedure for the carrier

All shipments of waste for which notification is required shall be subject to the requirement of the conclusion of a contract between the notifier and the consignee for the recovery or disposal of the notified waste. The contract shall be concluded and effective at the time of notification and for the duration of the shipment. Where the notifier intends to ship waste, he shall submit a prior written notification to and through the competent authority of dispatch. The notification document and the movement document shall be issued to the notifier by the competent authority of dispatch. One of the problems in practice is that it is not specified how the agreements of the various authorities should be communicated, which sometimes causes problems for carriers.

Thus, shipments of waste must be accompanied by the movement document from the point of departure of a transboundary movement to the point of disposal. The information required on the movement document shall, as far as possible, be integrated into a single document alongside that required by the transport rules. Where this is not possible, the information should supplement rather than duplicate that required by the transport rules. The movement document should include instructions on who should provide information and complete any forms. Within the European Regulation, the obligations of the rail carrier concerning the transport documents in the context of a waste movement are set out in Article 16, Annex 1B and Annex VII. It is provided that once the competent authorities concerned have consented to a notified shipment, all undertakings concerned shall complete the movement document or, in the case of a general notification, the movement documents, at the points indicated, sign it or them and keep a copy or copies.

The Notifier must therefore complete the movement document and keep a copy of the movement document. Each shipment is accompanied by the movement document and copies of the notification document containing the written consents of the competent authorities concerned and the conditions established by these authorities. However, many operational difficulties remain – what about multimodal transport and the exchange of data and documents between rail and other carriers? What about document management in the context of exchanges and the responsibilities of the parties involved in transport documents in the transport chain? Some aspects remain unclear and unspecified in both regulations. What solutions can be found for this type of transport?

Possible solutions

The eFTI (electronic Freight Transport Information) Regulation will come into force in August 2024 and provide a legal framework or European standard for companies in the transport market in terms of electronic data exchange. eFTI will be used as an interface between waste producers, authorities and carriers, with B to A (business-to-administration) digital data exchange.

Another solution is linked to the transport document - B to B exchange (between carriers): the proper use of the CIM consignment note (and the CIM consignment note for combined transport), in particular box 7 with code 16, box 9 with appendices and documents. The information on the transport document is essential: Article 8 of the CIM Uniform Rules provides that liability for the information in the consignment note lies with the consignor (producer, loader, notifier). It is important to specify this in the context of the various participants in the transport chain and the indications concerning the transport of waste.

Conclusion and next steps

The revision of the European Waste Shipment Regulation is still pending and will be a central topic monitored by CIT. There is undeniably a need for discussions between rail carriers among themselves and with the road/sea/inland waterway carriers involved in this type of transport to harmonise the flow of information and transport documents and to agree on the need to facilitate this kind of transport. CIT will engage in this issue over the next few months to raise the subject with various organisations and discuss bilaterally with the carriers who need to be supported in this kind of transport.

Finally, CIT is and will remain involved in the development of a “Waste Expert Group” on this subject with UIC, linked to the existing UIC Transport of Dangerous Goods Expert Group. The year 2023 will see further meetings of this Waste Expert Group and a “CIT Multimodality Workshop” in October focusing on the topic of international waste transport.

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