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Landfill of waste

Landfill of waste

There are many different ways of disposing of waste. Burying it in the ground, known as landfilling, is the least environmentally sustainable and should be kept to the absolute minimum.


Council Directive 1999/31/EC of 26 April 1999 on the landfill of waste.



It aims to prevent, or reduce as much as possible, any negative impact from landfilling on surface water, groundwater, soil, air or human health. It does so by introducing stringent technical requirements.


  • Landfill sites are divided into three categories: landfills for hazardous waste, landfills for non-hazardous waste and landfills for inert waste (waste which will not decompose or burn, such as gravel, sand and stone).
  • EU governments must implement national strategies to progressively reduce the amount of biodegradable waste sent to landfills.
  • Landfill facilities may not accept used tyres or waste which is liquid, flammable, explosive or corrosive, or from hospitals and medical and veterinary practices.
  • Only waste that has been treated may be landfilled.
  • Municipal waste may go to landfills for non-hazardous waste.
  • National authorities must ensure that the price operators charge for disposing of the waste covers all the costs involved from opening to final closure of the site.
  • Operators of landfill sites must apply for a permit and provide the following information:
    • the identity of the applicant, and, in some cases, the operator;
    • a description of the type and quantity of waste to be deposited;
    • the capacity and a description of the site, including operating, monitoring and control plans;
    • ways of preventing and reducing pollution; and
    • details of closure and after-care procedures.

On 16 April 2014, EU legislation was adopted to strengthen the quality of the environmental impact procedure set out in Directive 2011/92/EU. This was necessary to ensure coherence and synergy with other areas of European legislation and policies.

Decision 2003/33/EC lays down the criteria and procedures for the acceptance of waste at landfills.

For more information, see the waste landfill pages of the European Commission’s website.



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 1999/31/EC



OJ L 182, 16.07.1999, pp. 1-19

Amending act(s)

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 1882/2003



OJ L 284, 31.10.2003, pp. 1-53

Regulation (EC) No 1137/2008



OJ L 311, 21.11.2008, pp. 1-54

Directive 2011/97/EU



OJ L 328, 10.12.2011, pp. 49-52

Successive amendments and corrections to Directive 1999/31/EC have been incorporated in the original text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.


Directive 2014/52/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 April 2014 amending Directive 2011/92/EU on the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment (Official Journal L 124, 25.4.2014, pp. 1-18).

Council Decision 2003/33/EC of 19 December 2002 establishing criteria and procedures for the acceptance of waste at landfills pursuant to Article 16 of and Annex II to Directive 1999/31/EC (OJ L 11, 16.1.2003, pp. 27-49).

last update 22.05.2015