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News: The current regulatory framework for disposing waste in Portugal is blocking 150 waste containers at Sines and 36 waste containers at Leixoes ports

03 July 2020

Carriage of waste by sea is regulated by regional, national and international legislation that decide how to transport such cargo between different countries. These shipments must be authorized by all the concerned states.

Members should be aware that when importing waste to Portugal, EU Regulation 1013/2006 must be complied along with the Portuguese Ministry Order dated 03/01/2020 and now Portuguese Decree Law 22/2020 dated 16th May 2020. However, the Portuguese current legal framework has created some complexities and opens the door to the following questions. 

 
How have the new Ministry Order dated 3 January 2020 and the Decree Law 22/2020 changed the national regulation? 

Article 11 of the EU Regulation 1013/2006 establishes that a member state may reject waste from entering the country, when  same affects the self-sufficiency of local and national waste disposal facilities.

Based on the above, the Ministry order dated 03/01/2020 denies authorisation to shipments of waste for disposal on which the permission is applied from 1st February 2020 onwards.

In addition, the Decree Law 22/2020 introduces restrictions for several types of waste for disposal even when the pertinent authorization was requested before 1st February 2020. These restrictions are in force from 17th May 2020 to 31st December 2020.


How could the new regulatory framework affect shipowners, charterers and any of the cargo interests? 

Ship operators must be aware of the date when the authorisation to dispose waste in Portugal was applied and the type of waste that is being carried.
Thus, in the following scenarios shipowners, charterers and cargo interests might be fined from the pertinent Portuguese authority and shall be under the duty to take back the cargo, if:

(i) The waste for disposal permission was requested after 1st February 2020.
 
(ii) Even if the waste for disposal authorization was granted before 1st February 2020, if it is a:
 
a)  Shipment of non-dangerous waste for landfill disposal – Code D 1; and/or
b)  Shipment of inert waste for landfill disposal - Code D 1.


What are the measures that need to be taken by all the affected parties in order to comply with the new regulations that are currently in place?

Before commencing a waste cargo voyage to Portugal, ship operators are highly recommended to:

(i) Confirm whether the waste is for disposal or recovery. Waste for recovery is not affected by the new regulations and therefore is subject to the general rules.
 
(ii) Make sure the date when the permission to carry waste for disposal was authorized following the Ministry Order dated 03/01/2020.
 
(iii) Consider the type of waste. The following types are not subject to any restrictions under the Decree Law 22/2020:
 
a) Shipments of waste for temporary warehousing – Code D15.
b) Shipments of dangerous waste for disposal.
c) Shipments of hospital waste, either for chemical treatment or for incineration.  
 
By taking all of the above steps, ship operators are unlikely to incur any liability that would potentially lead to a fine, and/or the duty to take back the cargo and/or any storage costs at the discharge port incurred as part of storing the blocked containers. 
 
We thank our correspondent Pinto Basto for this important update.