Waste & Recycling


EU directive on waste approved

The European Union approved a directive on waste on November 19, 2008.

The European Union approved a directive on waste on November 19, 2008.

The new directive adopts a hierarchy for handling waste (Article 4). The hierarchy is: (i) prevention, (ii) preparing for re-use, (iii) recycling, (iv) other recovery, e.g. energy recovery, and (v) disposal. Member states may depart “from the hierarchy where justified by life-cycle thinking on the overall impacts of the generation and management of such waste.”

The point of the Directive, according to the 28th recital, is to “help move the EU closer to a ‘recycling society’, seeking to avoid waste generation and to use waste as a resource.”

With regard to used oil Article 21.1(b), member states “shall take the necessary measures to ensure that. . .waste oils are treated in accordance with Articles 4 (the waste hierarchy described above) and 13. . .” Also, the new directive, in Article 21.3, also allows member states to “restrict the transboundary shipment of waste oils from their territory to incineration or co-incineration facilities in order to give priority to the regeneration of waste oils.”

This new directive repeals the prior directive on waste oil, which dealt only with waste oil and required member states to give priority to regeneration of waste oil. The 44th recital states: “In the interests of the simplification of Community legislation and the reflection of environmental benefits, the relevant provisions of Council Directive 75/439/EEC of 16 June 1975 on the disposal of waste oils should be integrated into this Directive. Directive 75/439/EEC should therefore be repealed. The management of waste oils should be conducted in accordance with the priority order of the waste hierarchy, and preference should be given to options that deliver the best overall environmental outcome.”

Article 8 allows for extended producer responsibility for products resulting in waste. See Article 8. It also contains provisions requiring waste oils to be collected separately “where this is technically feasible” and to make sure waste oils of different characteristics are not mixed “where this is technically feasible and economically viable” or mixed with different kinds of waste “if such mixing impedes treatment”. See Article 21.1(a) & (c).

For detailed analysis, look for an article by consultant Usman Valiante in the forthcoming February/March edition of Solid Waste & Recycling magazine.

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