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Guide to the Approximation of European Union Environmental Legislation

Part 2

Overview of EU environmental legislation

C. Waste Management

The overall structure for an effective waste management regime is set out in the Waste Framework Directive and the complementary Hazardous Waste Directive. These directives establish the framework for waste management structures, which has been elaborated by two types of 'daughter' directives: One group sets down requirements for the permitting and operations of waste disposal facilities. The other group deals with specific types of waste such as oils, packaging and batteries.


C.1 Framework Directive on Waste

Council Directive 75/442/EEC provides the framework whereby the Member States could control the disposal of wastes nationally, instead of locally as before. It was substantially revised and amended in 1991 to provide a legal framework for the avoidance, management and disposal of wastes as set out in the Commission's Waste Management Strategy (SEC(89)934, 18.09.89.). The new framework provides for the adoption of a common terminology and definitions of waste based on work carried out by the OECD. The Member States must encourage the prevention or reduction of waste and its harmfulness by encouraging the development of clean technologies, technical product improvements, and disposal techniques. They must also encourage the recovery of waste and its use as a source of energy.

They must prohibit the abandonment, dumping or uncontrolled discharge of waste. To meet the goal of making the European Community self-sufficient in waste disposal, they must establish an integrated and adequate network of disposal installations, in co-operation with other Member States and taking account of the best available technology not involving excessive costs.

The national competent authorities under the Directive must draw up waste management plans as soon as possible, covering the wastes to be recovered or disposed of, technical requirements, special arrangements for particular wastes, and suitable disposal sites or installations. The plans may also include the persons involved, costs, and measures to encourage rationalisation of collection, sorting and treatment. The national competent authorities under the Directive also serve as the permit authorities for establishments carrying out disposal or recovery operations.

In accordance with the polluter pays principle the costs of waste disposal must be borne by the holder or the previous holder of the waste.

Implementation considerations
  1. The EU waste management system presuppose adequate administrative systems on national, regional, and local levels, as well as adequate infrastructure for safe collection, sorting, transport, recycling, materials and energy recovery, and disposal of all types of waste.
  2. When preparing national laws, particular attention should be given to the EU definitions, particularly in establishing 'waste' types/categories, the definitions of 'management', 'holder', 'collection and 'recovery' and to the hierarchy of waste treatment principles as well as the principles of polluter pays, proximity and self-sufficiency.
  3. Competent Authorities should be designated for the purposes of the Waste Framework Directive, the Waste Shipment Regulation, and other relevant waste-related directives. Administrative structures will be needed at the local, regional and national level.
  4. Proper implementation will require the consultation and co-operation of industry, trade, and consumers at large. The public must be informed.
  5. Waste Management Plans on a regional basis or incorporated into strategic national waste plans, should be drawn up at an early stage.
  6. Systems for licensing of waste disposal operations and for waste recovery operations will need to be set up, as well as registries or licensing systems for professional waste collectors or transporters, or professional brokers of disposal and recovery services.
  7. Clear economic measures, such as taxes, charges and deposit systems would encourage waste minimisation.

Waste Framework Directive – Implementation Considerations

National Legislative Framework
  • Compare Directive requirements to existing national laws.
  • Identify Legislative Gaps.
  • Options:
  • One main legislative tool (Waste Management Act);
  • Or, section of the relevant legislation governing waste management, licensing, waste flows, waste reduction.
Competent Authorities (CAs)
  • CAs must have administrative systems and technical knowledge.
  • The National Authority responsible for uniform waste flow and site management standards, co-ordinating waste management planning and the collection of waste statistics.
  • Local CAs manage local waste management facilities and waste flows through co-ordination with the private sector as appropriate.
  • National CA to observe EU reporting duties.
Legal Checkpoints
  • Provide for legal division of jurisdiction of Central and local CA roles.
  • Implementation of relevant definitions such as 'waste', 'disposal' and 'recovery'.
  • legal considerations for drawing up waste management plans.
  • Penalties for breaches of permits.
  • Consider local monitoring and enforcement measures.
Permit Procedures
  • National CA to provide application forms for waste management site permits.
  • Applicant to provide prescribed documentation.
  • CA to ensure applicant is appropriate waste management site operator.
  • CA to determine conditions which attach to permit including site closure requirements.
  • CA to monitor site activities and respond to affected party complaints.
  • Transporters and dealers are registered
  • Ensure that prior to the development of the regime stakeholders are consulted on waste management needs, proposed waste planning processes and disposal/reduction options.
  • Stakeholders should include representatives from waste management firms, major waste producing sectors, local government, NGOs and other affected parties.
  • Ensure regular public communications about initiatives and public role in planning.
Financial Considerations
  • Government to establish CA and administrative support, administration procedures (permits), public communications.
  • Use incentives to encourage producer responsibility, waste minimisation and apply polluter pays principle.
  • Site operators to finance permit processes.
  • Households to pay for their waste disposal services.

C.2 Hazardous waste

The principal aim of the Council Directive 91/689/EEC is to formulate a common definition of hazardous waste and introduce greater harmonisation of the management of such waste. It lists hazardous wastes, constituents and properties which render waste hazardous. Establishments which carry out their own waste disposal will need a license.

Hazardous waste management plans have to be published by the competent authorities, either as part of the general waste management plan (according to 75/442/EEC) or separately. Member States must require:

registration and identification of every site where hazardous waste is delivered

packaging and labelling according to Community and international standards when such waste is collected, transported and temporarily stored.

The competent authorities must inspect installations producing and receiving hazardous waste as well as means of transporting the waste.

Implementation considerations
  1. The management of hazardous waste requires specific and stricter licensing and control procedures.
  2. National rules for the correct identification and classification of hazardous waste would have to be developed, as well as requirements and guidelines for their environmentally sound recovery and disposal.
  3. Technical capabilities and adequate infrastructures will have to be put in place to avoid the risk of inadequate recovery or disposal operations caused by emergency situations.
  4. A centralised data-bank would have to be created in order to fulfil the obligation to supply information to the EU Commission concerning hazardous waste and hazardous waste management and disposal contractors.

C.3 Shipment of Waste

Regulation 259/93/EEC on the supervision and control of shipments of waste within, into and out of the European Community establishes a system for controlling the movement of waste which implements the Basle Convention, the OECD Council Decisions on transfrontier movements of waste, and the fourth ACP-EEC (Lomé) Convention. Whilst the Basle Convention deals only with hazardous waste, the Regulation also covers shipments of non-hazardous waste. The Regulation sets up separate regimes governing shipments within the EU, imports, exports and transit shipments and the different requirements depend on whether the waste is destined for recovery or disposal, and whether it is listed in the annexes on the green, amber or red list. In general terms, it can be said that the amber and red lists consist of hazardous waste and the green list of non-hazardous waste. These 3 lists resulted from workings of the OECD. When comparing the 3 lists of waste under the Regulation on the one hand to the European Waste Catalogue under the Framework Directive and the Hazardous Waste List under the Hazardous Waste Directive on the other, it can be seen that they are different in structure. It must however be remembered that the 3 Regulation lists were drafted for a different purpose to the European Waste Catalogue and the Hazardous Waste List and that all lists must be applied in full.

Implementation considerations
  1. Member States must identify the appropriate competent authority or authorities to control the movement of wastes under the regulation; these may involve a combination of customs, industry or trade, and environmental offices.
  2. They must give guidance to the competent authorities on the documentation, procedure to be followed for each type of shipment and enforcement of the controls on transfrontier shipment of waste. A uniform consignment note is provided for. Special training is likely to be necessary to supplement procedural information.
  3. They must adopt procedures for informing and consulting with other countries concerning waste shipments
  4. Shippers and manufacturers must be informed about the requirements and controls

C.4 Waste Disposal Installations

Hazardous Waste Incineration

The Hazardous Waste Incineration Directive 94/67/EEC is a daughter directive to the Waste Framework Directive. Member States must set and enforce operating conditions and emission limit values for hazardous waste incineration plants through permits.

A permits under the Waste Framework Directive may only be granted if the incineration plant is designed, equipped and operated in such a manner that environmental pollution prevention requirements in the form of emission limits and management controls have been met. Hazardous waste incineration plants must be operated in order to achieve the maximum level of incineration possible. Permits must list the types and quantities of hazardous waste being incinerated. Incinerator operators must receive a comprehensive description of any waste before they can accept it.

Waste water discharges are also subject to a permit process. Incineration plant sites are subject the EU Groundwater Directive 80/68/EEC. Emission limit value exceedances must be notified to the competent authority without delay and can result in reducing incineration outputs or closing the plant.

Implementation considerations
  1. Guidelines for the development of new incineration plants for hazardous waste must be integrated in the national waste management and air quality strategies in order to comply with national needs and environmental quality targets.
  2. Permits should apply the minimum standards set in the directives, taking local conditions into account.
  3. Governments should develop additional emission standards in order to take into account specific technologies or potentially harmful emissions.
  4. Effective waste management and control procedures must be developed in order to avoid improper or illegal use of the incinerators for incineration of kinds of waste for which they are not authorised or equipped. Procedures should be developed for consultation and co-ordination among the different authorities responsible for the control of different types of emission to air, water and land.
  5. Authorities must develop plans for the use of the heat generated by the incineration plants.
  6. Programmes must be developed to ensure compliance with the directive's requirements for existing incineration plants.

Hazardous Waste Incineration Directive – Implementation considerations

National Legislative Framework
  • Compare directive's requirements to existing laws
  • Identify legislative gaps.
  • Options:
  • One main legislative tool (Incineration Act)
  • Given the narrow scope of the directive, implementing legislation could be introduced as a separate section in the main environmental legislative instrument (e.g. Environmental Protection Act).
Competent Authorities (CAs)
  • Revision of the existing administrative infrastructure to implement, administer and enforce incineration activities.
  • National level CA will also have role of ensuring consistent application of the standards and requirements of the directive.
  • CAs will be responsible for permitting, carrying out or supervising monitoring, information gathering, reporting to the Commission.
Legal Checkpoints
  • Definition of competent authorities and permit system
  • Determination of other emission limits and risk control measures
  • Procedures and requirements for monitoring and enforcement.
  • Notice requirements for shutdown orders.
  • Penalties of incinerator operators.
Permit Conditions
  • Incinerators must be designed, equipped and operated to meet minimum burn temperature requirements.
  • Monitoring operation, oxygen levels, emissions limit values, waste water discharges and disposal of residues.
  • Require continuous and periodic measurement systems and notification for exceedances and reporting to CAs
  • Ensure that stakeholders are consulted about general implementation requirements and costs, in particular about the exceedance notification procedures.
  • Involve the public in the definition of information operators must supply to government
  • Provide for effective communication, on an ongoing basis, of information about facilities and their operations to the public.
Financial Considerations
  • Government establishes CA and administrative support, monitoring and assessment, training, enforcement, guidelines and public information.
  • Operators to pay administrative costs of permit, provision of information and all costs of meeting compliance obligations.

Waste Incineration from New and Existing Installations

Directives 89/369/EEC and 89/429/EEC apply parallel sets of permitting requirements and operating restrictions to new and to existing municipal waste incineration plants. They are daughter directives to the Framework Directive 84/360/EEC on the combating of air pollution from industrial plants.

They regulates the permitting, design, equipment, operation, and reporting of municipal waste incineration plants. New plants are those for which an authorisation to operate was granted on or after 1 December 1990. They exclude plants used specifically for the incineration of sewage sludge, chemical, toxic and dangerous waste, medical waste from hospitals or other types of special waste, even if these plants burn municipal waste as well, because such incinerators are more stringently regulated under the Directive on Hazardous Waste Incineration.

Three levels of emission limit values for dust, certain combinations of heavy metals, hydrochloric acid, hydrofluoric acid and S02 are established, depending on the nominal capacity of the incineration plant. Limit values and a programme of phased improvement of existing municipal waste incineration plants within certain time limits are laid down.

They establish extensive requirements for monitoring, inspection and reporting by the operators of these plants. Information concerning the application for operating permits and the results of the monitoring must be made available to the public.

Directive 89/429/EEC on existing municipal waste incinerators gave existing incinerators until 1 December 1996 to comply with the standards for new incinerators. All other existing incinerators must meet most of the same standards as for new incinerators by the year 2000.

Implementation considerations
  1. Guidelines for the development of new incineration plants must be integrated in the national waste management and air quality strategies in order to comply with environmental quality targets.
  2. Countries may impose additional emission limits in order to take into account specific technologies or potentially harmful emissions.
  3. Waste management and control procedures must be developed in order to avoid improper or illegal use of the incinerators for incineration of kind of waste for which they are not authorised or equipped.
  4. Adequate programmes must be developed to ensure compliance with the directive's requirements for small 'existing' incineration plants.
Proposed Landfill Directive

A proposal for a Directive on Landfill is now before Parliament and the Council. It would require all wastes to be treated before being landfilled. Codisposal (the mixing of hazardous waste with municipal waste in the same landfill) would be phased out. Prices for landfill disposal must cover the costs of closing the landfill site as well as management, and also must cover at least 50 years of care after closure of the site.

In an effort to reduce EU's total methane emissions, the revised proposal aims to reduce the quantity of biodegradable municipal waste sent to landfills; in addition, methane from both new and existing landfills would have to be collected and used, or flared off.

Implementation considerations
  1. As landfill is the most common and least expensive type of solid waste disposal, and standards are often lacking, it would be advisable for countries to align new legislation governing the operation of landfill sites with the proposed directive. Attention should be given to eventual amendments made to the proposal by the Council and the European Parliament.
  2. The requirement of the proposed directive should be integrated with the national waste strategies and management plans in compliance with the Waste Framework Directive. Such national plans must identify the sites which fall outside the scope of the proposed directive.
  3. An effective strategy to minimise the waste to be landfilled will require the participation and active support of all economic and social actors. Economic incentives and educational campaigns will be needed.
  4. Special provisions in the budget at national or at other level of administration should be developed to ensure the transparency and the availability of the after-closure funds to be set up under the directive.
  5. Liability for health and environmental damage from landfill sites should be defined.
  6. The environmental impact assessment procedure may be integrated into procedures for the permitting of projects and installations under the proposed directive.
  7. Countries will have to develop a strategy for the upgrading or the closure of existing landfill sites which do not comply with the directive's proposed minimum requirements. Controls must be intensified to minimise the risk of illegal landfills which do not comply with the standards.

C.5 Specific Wastes

Disposal of waste oils

Council Directive 75/439/EECaims to create a harmonised system for the collection, treatment, storage and disposal of waste oils, which allows the Member States to indemnify companies for the unrecovered costs of collecting and disposal of waste oils. It gives the highest priority to the regeneration of waste oils, then to combustion; and last to their destruction or controlled storage or tipping. Member States must ensure the safe collection and disposal of waste oils. The discharge of waste oils to waters and drainage systems is prohibited.

Any undertaking disposing of waste oil must obtain a permit from the competent authority. Any undertaking collecting waste oils must be registered and adequately supervised. Regenerated oils may not contain more than 50 parts per million (ppm) of polychlorinated biphenyls and terphenyls (PCB/PCT).

Implementation considerations
  1. The administration would have to ensure the creation of a countrywide system for the safe collection and regeneration or incineration of used oils all over the national territory. Public awareness campaigns would also have to be developed.
  2. Adequate disposal structures and strict control procedure would have to be put in place in order to avoid illegal or inadequate disposal of the fractions of oil that cannot be properly regenerated.
  3. An integrated/co-ordinated permitting and control system would have to be developed to ensure that operations of recovery or disposal of used oils do not impact negatively other environmental media.
  4. Special measures and installations would have to be created for dealing safely with waste oils containing PCB/PCT or other dangerous substances.
  5. National authorities would need to agree on the introduction of stricter requirements at national level. Information on national actions and experiences would have to be submitted to the Commission regularly.
Titanium Dioxide Waste

The Titanium Dioxide Directives 78/176/EEC and 82/883/EEC aim to prevent and progressively reduce pollution caused by waste from processing of titanium dioxide. Authorisation for dumping TiO2 wastes in the sea may be granted only if an assessment shows that the waste cannot be disposed of by more appropriate means and no damaging effects will occur. New installations must apply the available processes and techniques which are least damaging to the environment. Member States must submit plans to the Commission showing how they will achieve the directive's aims.

Implementation considerations
  1. Review whether any facilities in the country come within the scope of the directive. However, even if no titanium dioxide processing installations exist the directive will still have to be transposed into national law.
  2. Implementation should be within the framework of a national waste management system. Administrative and technical bodies will be needed to manage the strict permitting procedures and the technical controls.
  3. The nature of the potential pollution caused by the TiO2 requires careful co-operation between the authorities in charge of waste, water, and soil pollution prevention.
  4. Countries may have to develop national programmes for the minimisation – and if possible the elimination – of pollution caused by the TiO2 industry and for the total ban of waste discharge at sea or in inland water.
Disposal of PCBs and PCTs

Council Directive 96/59/EC aims at the elimination of polychlorinated biphenyls and polychlorinated terphenyls (PCBs) and at the decontamination of equipment containing them. This equipment must be inventoried, labelled and reported to the Commission by September 1999 and inventories must be updated. Equipment containing PCBs not yet decontaminated must be kept in good working order to avoid leaks.

Undertakings disposing of PCBs must be licensed in accordance with Directive 75/442/EEC. Incineration as a means of disposal must meet the standards set in Directive 94/67/EEC. Member States have to draw up disposal plans for inventoried PCBs by September 1999 and communicate them to the Commission.

Implementation considerations
  1. Strict regulations and enforcing instruments would have to be created or strengthened in order to ensure the most complete identification and classification of the presence of PCB/PCT and equipment containing them within the national territory.
  2. Authorities would have to draft plans for the safe decommissioning, disposal, or rehabilitation of identified contaminated equipment and installation within the timeframe set in the directive. Plans should possibly extend their scope to cover unregistered equipment possibly via the use of administrative and economic incentives established along with rigorous controls.
  3. The authorities would have to ensure that no technical or administrative bottlenecks would arise in the enforcement of the requirements of the directive. This would minimise the risks linked to improper or illegal disposal especially where SMEs are concerned.
Sewage sludge used in agriculture

Council Directive 86/278/EEC aims to control the use of sewage sludge in agriculture by establishing maximum limit values for concentrations of heavy metals in the soil and in the sludge, and maximum quantities of heavy metals (cadmium, copper, nickel, lead, zinc and mercury) which may be added to the soil.

It defines conditions for the use of such sludge: Member states must ensure that the limit values are not exceeded. Minimum time limits are set separating the use of sludge on certain types of agricultural lands and their use. Sludge and the soil on which it is used must be analysed according to the procedures set out in the annexes.

Implementation considerations
  1. The authorities responsible for water treatment, waste management, agriculture and enforcement will need to work together to achieve the aims of the directive; they should agree on the timetable and targets at the early stages of planning.
  2. A system of authorisation and record keeping for both the consignment and the use of sludge must be put in place and the information used for the development of national and consolidated European report on the issue.
  3. The need for introducing more stringent restrictions that the ones of the directive would have to be assessed on the basis of specific national or local sensitivity to soil and water contamination.
Batteries and accumulators containing dangerous substances

Council Directive 91/157/EEC was adopted as a specific measure within the framework of Council Directive 75/442/EEC on Waste to mandate the recovery and controlled disposal of spent batteries and accumulators containing certain amounts of mercury, cadmium or lead.

Member States must draw up programmes to reduce their heavy metal content, to promote the marketing of improved batteries and accumulators, to gradually reduce the phased out products to promote research and favour the use of less-polluting substitute substance in them,

They must ensure the efficient organisation of a separate collection and, where appropriate, the setting up of a deposit system. Economic instruments are allowed to encourage recycling; they must be introduced after consultation. Consumers must be fully informed about aspects of the risks and disposal opportunities.

Implementation considerations
  1. The authorities should establish a phased plan to ensure that the production and marketing restrictions for batteries and accumulators are rapidly complied with without creating major economic problems. However, such transition periods need to be used to put separate collection and disposal systems in place and raise public awareness on the issue.
  2. Long term programmes to increase public awareness and technical development would have to be developed within or in co-ordination with the waste reduction and management plans.
  3. The need for the introduction of economic instrument to maximise separate collection should be assessed; public education programmes would be helpful to ensure public co-operation in recovering and recycling waste batteries.
  4. A widespread network of collection point would have to be created and administrative permitting and control procedures put in place to allow safe transport and recovery of spent batteries where the right technologies are operational.
Packaging and packaging waste

Directive 94/62/EC implements the Union's strategy on packaging waste. It aims to harmonise national packaging waste management measures, to minimise environmental impacts of packaging waste and to avoid the erection of barriers to trade within the European Union. It covers packaging and packaging waste, industrial commercial or domestic, regardless of the materials used.

Recovery and recycling targets are established to be met within five years of the enactment of implementing legislation in the Member States. Such legislation must be enacted by mid-1996. By 2001, 50-65% of packaging waste must be recovered, and 25-45% of all packaging waste must be recycled with at least 15% of each packaging material being recycled.

Re-use, recycling and other forms of recovery (including incineration with energy recovery) are accepted as equally valid methods of recovery. Recycling includes reprocessing and organic recycling (composting), but does not include incineration.

Member States must meet the recovery and recycling targets by 30 June 2001.

Implementation considerations
  1. The governments would have to assess the potential for packaging recovering and recycling at national level and set attainable targets within the ranges allowed by the directive.
  2. National authorities would have to ensure the creation of a system for managing packaging waste that will ensure the attainment of these targets. Existing experiences are based on the creation of partially voluntary systems where the economic actors commit themselves to reaching the targets within the set deadlines before regulatory requirements are set by the authorities. Economic incentives could be established to help the development and management of the system in its initial phase.
  3. Existing systems would have to be assessed to ensure compliance with EU requirements and avoid distortion of the free market.
  4. Regulatory restrictions and effective controls would have to be developed to ensure compliance with the EU essential requirements and the national standards the packaging materials have to comply with.
  5. A system must be developed for monitoring recycling rates and for controlling the production of packaging waste. Harmonised databases would have to be developed in order to allow comparative analysis across Europe.
  6. Promotion of public awareness concerning generation, management, and disposal of packaging waste is required as a main element for its minimisation.