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EU waste management law

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EU waste management law

Waste generation used to be an unavoidable and unfortunate by-product of economic activity and growth. With modern technology and careful husbandry, that cyclical link can be broken.

ACT

Directive 2008/98/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 November 2008 on waste and repealing certain directives.

SUMMARY

Waste generation used to be an unavoidable and unfortunate by-product of economic activity and growth. With modern technology and careful husbandry, that cyclical link can be broken.

WHAT DOES THE DIRECTIVE DO?

It establishes a legal framework for treating waste in the European Union (EU). This is designed to protect the environment and human health by emphasising the importance of proper waste management, recovery and recycling techniques to reduce pressure on resources and improve their use.

KEY POINTS

The legislation establishes a waste hierarchy: prevention, re-use, recycling, recovery for other purposes such as energy and disposal.

It confirms the ‘polluter pays principle’ whereby the original waste producer must pay for the costs of waste management.

It introduces the concept of ‘extended producer responsibility’. This may include an onus on manufacturers to accept and dispose of products returned after use.

It makes a distinction between waste and by-products (*).

Waste management must be carried out without any risk to water, air, soil, plants or animals, without causing a nuisance through noise or smells, or harming the countryside or places of special interest.

Producers or holders of waste must treat it themselves or have it handled by an officially recognised operator. They require a permit and are inspected periodically.

Competent national authorities must establish waste management plans and waste prevention programmes.

Special conditions apply to hazardous waste, waste oils and bio-waste.

It introduces recycling and recovery targets to be achieved by 2020 for household waste (50 %) and construction and demolition waste (70 %).

The legislation does not cover certain types of waste such as radioactive elements, decommissioned explosives, faecal matter, waste waters and animal carcasses.

WHEN DOES THE DIRECTIVE APPLY?

From 12 December 2008.

KEY TERMS

(*)By-product: a result from a production process that was not the primary aim of that process. Unlike waste, it must be able to be used afterwards. The directive allows the European Commission to set criteria to be met by substances so as to differentiate by-products from waste.

For more information, see the waste framework directive pages on the European Commission’s website.

REFERENCES

Act

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 2008/98/EC

12.12.2008

12.12.2010

OJ L312 of 22.11.2008, pp. 3-30

Amending act(s)

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Regulation (EU) No 1357/2014

8.1.2015

-

OJ L 365 of 19.12.2014, pp. 89-96

Successive amendments and corrections to Directive 2008/98/EC have been incorporated in the basic text. This consolidated version is for reference purpose only.

RELATED ACTS

Commission Decision 2014/955/EU of 18 December 2014 amending Decision 2000/532/EC on the list of waste pursuant to Directive 2008/98/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council (Official Journal L 370 of 30.12.2014, pp. 44-86).

Last updated: 10.06.2015

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