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Directive 2008/98/EC on waste (Waste Framework Directive)

Directive 2006/12/EC on waste has been revised in order to modernise and streamline its provisions.

The revised Directive 2008/98/EC sets the basic concepts and definitions related to waste managament and lays down waste management principles such as the "polluter pays principle" or the "waste hierarchy".

Revision of the Waste Framework Directive

In 2006, Directive 75/442/EEC on waste has been codified. Codification is a process by which legal texts that have been revised several times are codified into one new text that replaces all the previous versions. No legal or political changes are made to the text during the codification process. The new codified Waste Framework Directive (Directive 2006/12/EC) is now the only legally valid version of the Waste Framework Directive and will remain so until the substantive proposal for a revision is adopted.

As a first step in the implementation of the Thematic Strategy on the prevention and recycling of waste, the Commission proposes revising the 1975 Waste Framework Directive to set recycling standards and to include an obligation for EU Member States to develop national waste prevention programmes. This revision will also merge, streamline and clarify legislation, contributing to better regulation. All steps of the revision process can be followed in Pre-Lex or in the Legislative Observatory of the European Parliament..

Main steps of the revision process:

  • Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and the Council on Waste COM(2005) 667 final. This proposed substantive revision is not affected by the recent codification of the Waste Framework Directive.
  • European Parliament opinion on the revision of the Waste Framework Directive. The European Parliament gave its first reading opinion on the revision of the Waste Framework Directive on 12 February 2007: Commission's reaction to this opinion (pdf 46KB).
  • On 20 December 2007, the Council adopted its common position. Statement of the Council's reasons can be found here. The Commission adopted its Communication concerning the Council's common position on 9 January 2008.
  • The text of the common position has been transferred to the European Parliament for a second reading, expected to last until June 2008.
  • The European Parliament's Environment Committee issued its draft recommendation for a second reading on the Council's common position.
  • On 8 April 2008, the parliamentary Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI Committee) adopted a recommendation for second reading containing 80 amendments to the common position.
  • On 17 June 2008, the European Parliament adopted a legislative resolution in which it approves the Council's Common Position as amended. The Commission has issued a press release in this regard.
  • Following the Parliamentary vote, the Commission delivered a positive opinion on the proposed amendments. The Council adopted the revised Directive on 20 October 2008. The text will now have to be published in the Official Journal of the European Union and will enter into force on the 20th day after the publication. You can consult a non legally binding version of the adopted text at the Council's website.

By-products Communication

As part of its Thematic Strategy on the prevention and recycling of waste of 21 December 2005, the Commission adopted a proposal for revision of the Waste Framework Directive which set out a mechanism to tackle one of the issues around the waste definition, relating to setting criteria from when some waste streams cease to be waste (For example, when composted biological waste becomes compost). Instead of also proposing to define by-products in the legal text, the Commission committed itself to coming forward with clear guidance on the issue of waste and by-products, a commitment that is now met with this present Communication. This approach has allowed for greater legal certainty, by leaving the existing case law in place and building on these foundations.

The Communication explains the business and environmental context around by-products. These materials can come from a wide range of business sectors, and can have very different environmental impacts. An incorrect classification could be the cause of environmental damage or unnecessary costs for business.

It then examines part by part the tests set out by the European Court of Justice in the extensive case law on this subject, and explains how the tests can be applied in practice. It gives a number of examples of some materials that can be classified as waste or by-products, explaining how they fit into the legal tests.

The Communication interprets existing law, as set down in the Waste Framework Directive and as interpreted by the European Court of Justice. It does not affect the ongoing revision of the Waste Framework Directive but will enable any changes envisaged to this Directive to be made with a clear understanding of the current legal situation.

End of waste project

The JRC will be working on a project to look at the scientific methodology that could be used to determine end of waste criteria. They will then take some case studies to analyse this criteria. The terms of reference will be available here shortly. A presentation of the project has been prepared by the JRC.

Impacts of classifying municipal incinerators as recovery using an energy efficiency threshold

Letter from Commissioner Stavros Dimas to the European Parliament on additional information concerning the impacts of the proposed classification of municipal waste incinerators as recovery installations using an energy efficiency threshold.

Non-paper submitted to the Council Working Group, explaining the origin and purpose of the proposed energy efficiency threshold for classification of municipal incinerators.

Preparation of guidance on biowaste management

See all information on biodegradable waste pages.

The European List of Waste

European List of Waste (Commission Decision 2000/532/EC) is meant to be a reference nomenclature providing a common terminology throughout the Community with the purpose to improve the efficiency of waste management activities. The LoW serves as a common encoding of waste characteristics in a broad variety of purposes like classification of hazardous wastes, transport of waste, installation permits, decisions about recyclability of the waste or as a basis for waste statistics. In order to simplify and modernise European waste legislation the Commission has conducted a study on the review of the European List of Waste performed by Ökopol GmbH and ARGUS GmbH. The study is providing information on the implementation of the EWL, proposing amendments of the LoW and assessing the impacts of those amendments. Taking into account these results the Commission will prepare the necessary amendments to the List of Waste.

Commission Decision on the European List of Waste (COM 2000/532/EC)

Study: Review of the European List of Waste

Background documents to the European List of Waste

Waste Prevention

Article 29(5) of Directive 2008/98/EC on waste calls upon the Commission to create a system for sharing information on best practice regarding waste prevention and to develop guidelines in order to assist the Member States in the preparation of their waste prevention programmes. In order to address this requirement, the Commission has set up a website devoted to waste prevention activities.