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Landfill of waste



Directive 1999/31/EC on the landfill of waste


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


  • Landfill sites are divided into 3 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 countries 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 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.
  • In 2014, amending Directive 2014/52/EU was adopted to strengthen the quality of the procedure on the assessment of the effects of projects on the environment set out in Directive 2011/92/EU (see summary). This was necessary to ensure consistency and synergy with other areas of EU legislation and policies.
  • Decision 2003/33/EC lays down the criteria and procedures for the acceptance of waste at landfills.

Amending Directive (EU) 2018/850

  • To underpin the EU’s transition to a circular economy, Directive (EU) 2018/850 amends Directive 1999/31/EC.
  • Directive (EU) 2018/850:
    • introduces restrictions on landfilling from 2030 of all waste that is suitable for recycling or other material or energy recovery;
    • seeks to limit the share of municipal waste landfilled to 10% by 2035;
    • introduces rules on calculating the attainment of municipal waste targets and requires EU countries to put in place an effective quality control and traceability system for municipal waste landfilled;
    • requires the European Commission, with the European Environment Agency, 3 years before each deadline, to draw up early warning reports to identify shortcomings in the attainment of the targets and recommending action to be taken;
    • allows EU countries to use economic instruments and other measures to encourage the application of the waste hierarchy* introduced under Directive 2008/98/EC, the Waste Framework Directive (see summary).


  • Directive 1999/31/EC has applied since 16 July 1999 and had to become law in the EU countries by 16 July 2001.
  • Amending Directive (EU) 2018/850 had to become law in the EU countries by 5 July 2020.


For more information, see:

  • Waste (European Commission).


Waste hierarchy: a 5-step hierarchy where prevention is the best option, followed by re-use, recycling and other forms of recovery, with disposal such as landfill as the last resort.


Council Directive 1999/31/EC of 26 April 1999 on the landfill of waste (OJ L 182, 16.7.1999, pp. 1-19)

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


Directive 2011/92/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 December 2011 on the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment (codification) (OJ L 26, 28.1.2012, pp. 1-21)

See consolidated version.

Directive 2008/98/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 November 2008 on waste and repealing certain Directives (OJ L 312, 22.11.2008, pp. 3-30)

See consolidated version.

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 22.07.2020