The European Court of Auditors (ECA) said on Tuesday that the trash export ban will increase the risk of a plastic waste pile-up in the EU.
Europe produced 29 million tons of post-consumer plastic waste in 2018, more than 60 percent of which was packaging.
But more plastic waste is incinerated than recycled in Europe, which the auditors attributed to a lack of facilities that could mean it struggles to reach a target plastic packaging recycling rate of 50 percent by 2025 and 55 percent by 2030.
International rules will allow only pre-sorted, uncontaminated recyclable plastics to be shipped to non-OECD countries from 2021, meaning the bloc can send less waste abroad, makes expanding capacity even more urgent, the ECA said.
"There is a huge need for recycling capacities," said ECA member Samo Jereb.
Nearly one-third of all the plastic packaging Europe currently recycles is shipped abroad for recycling.
The EU and national governments also need to better enforce laws on illegal waste disposal, Jereb said, adding: "If there is a possibility to avoid these rules with illegal actions, and there is no dissuading with appropriate sanctions, of course, crime will flourish."