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Sustainable and responsible business

Waste management regulatory framework

Thematic strategy on waste prevention and recycling

The Thematic Strategy on the prevention and recycling of waste is one of the seven thematic strategies programmed by the 6th Environmental Action Plan. This long-term strategy aims to help Europe become a recycling society that seeks to avoid waste and uses waste as a resource. In this respect it complements and draws on the knowledge generated in the thematic strategy on resources. A first step, in the implementation of the Thematic Strategy on the prevention and recycling of waste, was the revision of the Waste Framework Directive, with the view to streamline and clarify legislation; contribute to better regulation; set recycling standards; and develop national waste prevention programmes.

The Waste Framework Directive is a key part of the environmental acquis both in terms of its direct impact and also in the use of its definitions for recovery and recycling targets and waste shipment rules. It sets out the basic rules for a significant economic sector (the waste management industry) and has significant economic implications for other industries and public authorities. Initially, the objective of the Waste Framework Directive was to provide a system of permits, registrations, inspections able to ensure that waste was traceable and properly treated at every stage, either going for recycling or disposal.

Packaging and Packaging waste Directive

The packaging and packaging waste Directive aims to harmonise national measures in order to prevent or reduce the impact of packaging and packaging waste on the environment and to ensure the functioning of the Internal Market. It contains provisions on the prevention of packaging waste, on the re-use of packaging and on the recovery and recycling of packaging waste.

The Directive requires that a certain percentage of packaging waste by Member State goes to recover or incinerate at waste incineration plants with energy recovery. The Directive also establishes the minimum recycling targets for materials (e.g. glass, paper and board, metals, plastics, wood) contained in packaging waste that must be attained.

The Directive also lays down essential requirements with which Member States should comply regarding the composition and the reusable and recoverable nature of packaging and packaging waste. The Commission is to promote the development of European standards relating to these essential requirements.

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