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Waste disposal (until the end of 2010)

This summary has been archived and will not be updated, because the summarised document is no longer in force or does not reflect the current situation.

Waste disposal (until the end of 2010)

The EU has a framework for coordinating waste management in the Member States in order to limit the generation of waste and to optimise the organisation of waste treatment and disposal.


Directive 2006/12/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 April 2006 on waste.


These measures apply to all substances or objects which the holder disposes of or is obliged to dispose of pursuant to the national provisions in force in the Member States. They do not apply to gaseous effluents, to radioactive waste, mineral waste, animal carcases and agricultural waste, waste water, and decommissioned explosives where these types of waste are subject to specific Community rules.

The Commission has published guidelines based in particular on the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Communities (CJEC) to help the authorities responsible and the private sector determine whether or not a product is considered waste (see Related Acts below).

Member States must prohibit the abandonment, dumping or uncontrolled disposal of waste, and must promote waste prevention, recycling and processing for re-use. They must inform the Commission of any draft rules concerning the use of products which may give rise to technical difficulties and excessive disposal costs and which may encourage a reduction in the quantities of certain wastes, the treatment of wastes for recycling or re-use, the use of energy from certain waste, and the use of natural resources which may be replaced by recovered materials.

The measures provide for cooperation between the Member States with a view to establishing an integrated and adequate network of disposal installations (taking account of the best available technologies) so as to enable the Community as a whole to become self-sufficient in waste disposal and the Member States to move towards that aim individually. This network should enable waste to be disposed of in one of the nearest appropriate installations, so as to guarantee a high level of environmental protection.

Member States must ensure that any holder of waste has it handled by a private or public waste collector or a disposal undertaking, or disposes of the waste himself in compliance with these measures.

Undertakings or establishments treating, storing or tipping waste on behalf of third parties must obtain a permit from the competent authority relating, in particular, to the types and quantities of waste to be treated, the general technical requirements and the precautions to be taken. The competent authorities may periodically check that the conditions of the permit are being complied with. They also monitor undertakings which transport, collect, store, tip or treat their own waste or third parties’ waste.

Recovery centres and undertakings disposing of their own waste also require a permit.

In accordance with the "polluter pays" principle, the cost of disposing of waste must be borne by the holder who has waste handled by a waste collector or an undertaking and/or by previous holders or the producer of the product giving rise to the waste.

The competent authorities designated by the Member States for the implementation of these measures are required to draw up one or more management plans relating, in particular, to the types, quantities and origins of the wastes to be recovered or disposed of, the general technical requirements, any special arrangements for particular wastes, and suitable disposal sites and installations.


This Directive consolidates and replaces Directive 75/442/EEC as subsequently amended. The aim of this consolidation is to clarify and rationalise the legislation on waste but it does not change the content of the applicable rules.

This Directive is repealed by Directive 2008/98/EC with effect from 12 December 2010.



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 2006/12/EC



OJ L 114, 27.4.2006

Amending act(s)

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 2008/98/EC



OJ L 312 of 22.11.2008


Commission Communication of 21 February 2007 on the Interpretative Communication on waste and by-products [COM(2007) 59 final – Not published in the Official Journal]. The Commission clarifies the concepts of a product, production residue and by-product, based in part on CJEC judgments. It also sets out guidelines to help the authorities responsible determine what is to be classified as waste and what is not. Thus, a production residue is not classified as waste if the further use of the material is a certainty and not a mere possibility, and if it can be used again without any further processing and as part of the continuing process of production. In addition, the by-product must not be a material which the producer is obliged to dispose of or the use of which is prohibited. Furthermore, there are various factors which identify a material as waste, in particular the fact that no other use than disposal can be envisaged, that the intended use has a high environmental impact or requires special protection measures, that the treatment method is a standard waste treatment method, that the undertaking perceives the material as waste or that if the undertaking seeks to limit the quantity of material produced. Lastly, the Commission lists examples of products which are waste and others which are not.

Commission Communication of 21 December 2005: “Taking sustainable use of resources forward: A Thematic Strategy on the prevention and recycling of waste” [COM(2005) 666 – Not published in the Official Journal]. This strategy sets out guidelines and describes measures aimed at reducing the pressure on the environment caused by waste production and management. The main thrust of the strategy focuses on amending the legislation to improve implementation, and on preventing waste and promoting effective recycling.

Decision 2000/532/EC [Official Journal L 226 of 6.9.2000]. This Decision establishes a list of wastes, including hazardous waste.

See consolidated version (pdf).

Last updated: 04.03.2009