Environmental Law Service

Climate Law Database

Supplementary provisions of the CCA - Waste management

The EU regulatory framework as regards waste management is quite extensive. Therefore only short overview of the existing legislation can be given. The general framework for waste management in the EU is determined by Directive 2006/12/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 April 2006 on waste (Waste Framework Directive, WFD, in force until December 2010). This Directive will be repealed by Directive 2008/98/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 November 2008 on waste and repealing certain Directives. Apart from the framework Directives following important legislation is in place (selection):

-Packaging and packing: European Parliament and Council Directive 94/62/EC of 20 December 1994 on packaging and packaging waste

-Batteries and accumulators: Directive 2006/66/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 September 2006 on batteries and accumulators and waste batteries and accumulators and repealing Directive 91/157/EEC

-Motor vehicles: Directive 2005/64/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 October 2005 on the type-approval of motor vehicles with regard to their re-usability, recyclability and recoverability and amending Council Directive 70/156/EEC

-Shipment of waste: Council Regulation (EEC) No 259/93 of 1 February 1993 on the supervision and control of shipments of waste within, into and out of the European Community

-Waste incineration: Directive 2000/76/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 4 December 2000 on the incineration of waste

-Landfill of waste: Council Directive 1999/31/EC of 26 April 1999 on the landfill of waste and the Council Decision 2003/33/EC of 19 December 2002

-Industrial and agricultural activities with a high pollution potential: Directive 2008/1/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 January 2008 concerning integrated pollution prevention and control

-Extractive Industries: Directive 2006/21/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 March 2006 on the management of waste from extractive industries

The shipment of radioactive waste is, amongst others, governed by Council Regulation (Euratom) No 1493/93 of 8 June 1993 on shipments of radioactive substances between Member States as well as by Council Directive 2006/117/Euratom of 20 November 2006 on the supervision and control of shipments of radioactive waste and spent fuel.

There is also an overarching Thematic strategy on waste prevention: 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).

Thematic strategy on waste prevention

In December 2005 the Commission published a Communication on the Thematic Strategy on the prevention and recycling of waste. One of the main aims of the EU action on waste is the reduction of the negative environmental impact of resource use. The reduction of the emission of GHG is explicitly mentioned in the Thematic Strategy. An increase in waste recovery (e.g. recycling) should lead to a reduction of GHG emissions resulting from waste disposal. The same effect can be achieved through a diversion of waste, in particular of biowaste, from landfill to composting. Excluded from the scope of the WFD (Waste Framework Directive) are gaseous effluents emitted into the atmosphere as well as specific types of waste such as radioactive waste or waste waters, as they are already covered by other legislation (Article 2). The Directive urges the Member States to take measures to encourage prevention or reduction of waste by means of clean technologies and innovative product design and to reduce its harmfulness through the development of appropriate techniques for the final disposal of dangerous substances contained in waste destined for recovery. Also the recovery of waste by means of recycling, re-use or reclamation as well as the use of waste as a source of energy is to be promoted (Article 3). Article 3 WFD leaves room for discretion to the Member States as regards the concrete measures they want to apply. In any case, they are supposed to inform the Commission of any planned measures which in turn informs the other Member States.

Waste management regulation

The WFD leaves a lot of room to the Member States as regards the tools they choose to implement an effective waste management. In particular, general waste reduction targets can be found neither in the Thematic Strategy nor in the WFD. The reason for this is the assumption that mandatory targets are not the most effective and eco-efficient way to encourage waste prevention. Such targets would, according to the Thematic Strategy (p. 16), fail to address the complexity of environmental impact and could not take national peculiarities (such as production and consumption patterns) into account. Therefore the Thematic Strategy as well as the WFD focuses on prevention policies and on reducing environmental impact and set up a framework for specific national activities. The Thematic Strategy explicitly mentions that prevention measures will have to be taken at national, regional or local level. It is therefore open to the Member States to provide for waste prevention legislation at all levels. WMPs appear as a central instrument for the improvement of national waste management and can thus contribute to GHG emission mitigation. A CCA could thus contain waste prevention targets together with reporting obligations on progress and measures. The British Act contains provisions on waste reduction schemes which are to be introduced in order to provide for financial incentives for waste reduction and for the increase in recycling. As an additional measure well worth promoting, the British Act also contains provisions regarding charges for single-use carrier bags. For measures relating to specific types of waste, the relevant sectoral legislation should be kept in mind.

Management of biowaste

When biowaste is landfilled, it produces methane, which is a very potent GHG. Therefore the aim of EU legislation in this area is, inter alia, to reduce the amount of biodegradable waste which is disposed in landfills. Directive 1999/31/EC specifically deals with biowaste as a problematic type of waste for landfills and sets up mandatory targets to be contained in a “National strategy for the implementation of the reduction of biodegradable waste going to landfills”. Those targets are (Article 5 par. 2):

  • A reduction to 75% (weight) of biodegradable waste going to landfills as compared to 1995 levels within 7 years after the entry onto force of the Directive (16 July 1999).
  • A reduction to 50% (weight) within 10 years after the entry onto force of the Directive.
  • A reduction to 35% within 17 years after the entry into force of the Directive.

    The Member States that put more than 80% of their biodegradable waste to landfills in 1995, may postpone the dates mentioned above by maximum 4 years. EUROSTAT data is used to determine the amount or share of biowaste. The national strategy should contain measures to achieve those targets. Measures mentioned are recycling, composting, biogas production, material/energy recovery.

A CCA could, due to the high relevance of biowaste landfilling as a source of GHG emissions, include those or stricter targets. Concrete measures such as awareness raising campaigns as regards the advantages of composting as compared to landfilling or financial incentives or disincentives for biowaste landfilling could be included in the national strategies as measures to achieve the targets set in the CCA.

The Directive 1999/31/EC together with the Council Decision 2003/33/EC enables member states to accept additional or more stringent regulation in their national strategies for the implementation of the reduction of biodegradable waste going to landfills, because the criteria for landfills for non-hazardous waste are not set at EU level and the bio-waste cannot be considered as an inert waste.

Thus the member states may define subcategories of landfills for non-hazardous waste in accordance with their national waste management strategies as long as the requirements of the Landfill Directive are met. The member states can also exclude from landfilling some type of waste which does not fulfill the acceptance criteria determined in accordance with Annex II under the Article 5 paragraph 3 (e) of the Directive 1999/31/EC.

This more stringent regulation of a biowaste landfilling can also be a part of the CCA.