Hazardous waste

Hazardous waste arisings are relatively low compared to the generated waste total but potentially very damaging to both the environment and human health. The following key pieces of European legislation all relate to hazardous wastes:

  • The Waste Framework Directive lays down a strict control regime for hazardous waste. The Directive stipulates that hazardous waste must be recorded, identified and kept separated from other types of hazardous and non-hazardous waste. The properties which render waste hazardous are laid down in the Directive and are further specified by Decision 2000/532/EC establishing a List of Wastes (LoW).
  • The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal is an international treaty which came into force in 1992 having been signed by 172 Parties. It is designed to protect human health and the environment from potential adverse effects of hazardous wastes, through the control of transboundary movements and disposal of hazardous wastes.  The driving force for drafting and adopting the Basel Convention was to prevent shipments of hazardous waste from developed to less developed countries, a practise which had begun to take place as authorised disposal routes had become more expensive as a consequence of environmental regulations becoming stricter;
  • The Landfill Directive banned co-disposal of waste which in practise means that hazardous waste must be assigned to a hazardous waste landfill (and municipal waste must go to a landfill for non-hazardous waste).

Statistics on hazardous waste generation and treatment are based on the data collected under the Waste Statistics Regulation (WStatR) and are used for the compilation of the Sustainable Development Indicator ‘Generation of hazardous waste, by economic activity ’.

Data

The paramount objective of EU waste policy is the prevention of waste. This includes the reduction of the amount of waste generated (quantitative prevention) as well as the reduction of the hazardousness of the waste generated (qualitative prevention). Hazardous waste generation can thus be used as an indicator for measuring the quantitative and the qualitative prevention of waste. The tables show the hazardous waste generation over time, broken down by countries and by waste categories, respectively. Particularities of hazardous waste generation and breaks in time series are explained in the Country specific notes.

  Generation of hazardous waste, by country and year

Hazardous waste poses a risk to human health and the environment if not managed and disposed of safely. The following table shows the treatment of hazardous waste in EU countries by type of treatment. 

   Treatment of hazardous waste, by country and by type of treatment

Please note: The Waste Statistics Regulation was revised between the reference years 2008 and 2010. The revision includes changes of waste categories (WASTE) and of waste treatment categories (WST_OPER) some of which cause breaks in time series. Please consider the instructions in the section Database  when selecting or downloading data for different reference years at a more detailed level than displayed in the tables above.

Data on the transboundary movements of hazardous waste are available in the section ‘Transboundary waste shipments’.

Recommended article

Waste Statistics

Useful addresses

Environment DG: Hazardous waste