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EC Directives

Here are summaries of some of the EC Directives that deal with waste management issues. As a Member State of the European Community we must comply with them.

Full text versions of European Community Legislation can be found at www.europa.eu.int/eur-lex/en/search/search_lif.html.

75/442/EEC - The Waste Framework Directive:

  • Article 3 encourages Member States to encourage the use of the Waste Hierarchy in waste management.
  • Article 4 states that waste is to be disposed of without causing danger to humans, the environment, the countryside or places of interest. It also calls for noise and odour to be minimised.
  • Article 5 requires that the relevant authority is to be made responsible for waste disposal and any planning, organisation, authorisation or supervision that is involved in this.
  • Article 6 states that a strategy is to be developed to deal with waste issues.
    Article 11 deals with the Polluter Pays principle.

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91/156/EEC - Council Directive of 18 March 1991 amending Directive 75/442/EEC on waste.

  • The preamble (the first section, which explains what the Directive is about) states that the purpose of this Directive is to amend the Waste Framework Directive in accordance with experience gained between 1975 and 1991.

It requires that Member States take action to restrict the amount of waste produced by promoting:

  • clean technology.
  • products that can be recycled or reused.

The Directive notes that it is important for the European Community as a whole and each Member State individually to work towards becoming self-sufficient in waste disposal. Furthermore, it requires that waste management plans be drawn up by each Member State.

The operative part of the Directive, which sets out the specific requirements of the Directive, is divided into Articles. Here is a summary of the main Articles:

Article 3: requires that Member States prevent or reduce the waste and its harmfulness by

  • the development of clean technology;
  • the technical development and marketing of products that do not contribute to waste or pollution;
  • the development of techniques for final disposal of dangerous substances that arise from waste which is destined for recovery.

It also states that the recovery of waste should be carried by:

  • recycling,
  • reuse,
  • reclamation,
  • any other process,

in order to extract secondary raw materials as well as using waste to produce energy.

Article 4: requires that Member States take measures to ensure that waste is recovered or disposed of without harm to human health or the environment.

Article 5: states that a network of waste disposal facilities should be established. These facilities should incorporate the best available technology. It must enable the EC as a whole and each State individually to become self-sufficient in waste disposal. Also the network should be such that waste can be disposed of in the nearest facility to where it is produced.

Article 7: instructs Member States to draw up waste management plans.

Articles 8 - 17: deal with permits, registration, records and reports of waste disposal facilities.

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Council Directive 91/157/EEC of 18 March 1991 on batteries and accumulators containing certain dangerous substances.

This Directive prohibits, with effect from 1 January 1993, the placing on the market of:

  • manganese alkaline batteries designed for prolonged use in extreme conditions and containing more than 0.05% by weight of mercury;
  • any other alkaline battery with a mercury content of more than 0.025% by weight.


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Council Directive 94/62/EC of 15 December 1994 on packaging and packaging waste.

This Directive requires Member States to introduce systems for the return and/or collection of used packaging so that it can be recovered or recycled.

Member States will ensure that users of packaging are given the necessary information about the management of packaging and packaging waste.

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Council Directive 96/61/EC of 24 September 1996 concerning integrated pollution prevention and control.

  • This Directive seeks to achieve the integrated prevention and control of pollution. This means that we should look holistically at pollution - not just at one issue in isolation. The Directive includes waste management.

    Article 3(c) demands that "waste production is avoided" and that "where waste is produced, it is recovered or where that is technically or economically impossible, it is disposed of while avoiding or reducing any impact on the environment."

    In addition to this, the Directive requires that the relevant authorities use or at least be informed of new technological developments (as regards waste disposal).

    Finally, it states that the public should have free access to information on the environment.

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Council Directive 1999/31/EC on the landfill of waste is more commonly known as 'The Landfill Directive'.

  • The Preamble (which is the first part of the Directive and lays out what the Directive is about and aims to achieve), states that:

  • Landfill gas is to reduced in order to reduce global warming;
  • This is to be done by reducing the amount of biodegradable waste going to landfill, by encouraging the separate collection of biodegradable waste and in general by the prevention, recycling and recovery of waste in the first instance;
  • The amount and hazardous nature of the waste going to landfills should be reduced;
  • Landfills must be monitored to reduce or prevent harm to human health and the environment.

The main body of the Directive lays out the manner in which the above objectives are to be achieved. Here is a brief summary of some of the main points of the Directive:

Article 4 states that landfills should be classified as for:

  • Hazardous waste;
  • Non-hazardous waste;
  • Inert waste.

This means that particular types of waste are to go to specific landfills.

Article 5 requires Member States to produce a strategy to reduce the amount of biodegradable waste going to landfills, which is to include recycling, composting, biogas production and materials/energy recovery.

It goes on to set out some specific targets for this. The Member States were given two years from the date of this Directive to set up legislation regarding the reduction on biodegradable waste. That means that it would have had to have been in place by 2001.

Following this, the quantity of biodegradable waste going to landfill would have to be reduced to:

    1. 75% of the 1995 quantity by 2006;
    2. 50% of the 1995 quantity by 2009;
    3. 35% of the 1995 quantity by 2014.

However, Member States that landfilled 80% or more of their waste at the time of this Directive were given the option to defer the achievement of their targets by a further four years. This we have chosen to do.

The Article forbids that:

  • liquid wastes;
  • explosive, corrosive, oxidising or flammable wastes;
  • whole used tyres should go into landfills.

Article 6 specifies which types of waste are to go into which category of landfill.

The remaining Articles deal with the operation, management and monitoring of landfills.

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Directive 2000/53/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 September 2000 on end-of-life vehicles (The End of Life Vehicle Directive)

The aim of the ELV Directive is to prevent waste from vehicles which can no longer be used. This can be done by reusing and recycling their components to protect the environment.

Article 4 of the Directive states that manufacturers of vehicles should design vehicles:
· Using as few hazardous substances as possible
· That can be dismantled easily so that their parts can be reused or recycled.

Article 5 makes member states responsible for the collection of all end-of-life vehicles. They must also ensure that all vehicles are sent to authorised treatment facilities

Under the Directive, the last person to own a vehicle before the end of its life must be able to dispose of it free of charge.

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The WEEE Directive (Directive 2002/96/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 January 2003 on waste electrical and electronic equipment)

This Directive states that "Member States should adopt appropriate measures to minimise the disposal of WEEE as unsorted municipal waste". In other words, we should not be throwing away waste electrical and electronic equipment along with general household waste due to its hazardous nature.

It goes on to state that householders should have the option to return WEEE free of charge, so that it can be recycled or have some of the components recovered and the rest safely disposed of.

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