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EU Waste Legislation

This section summarises some key pieces of current European legislation that have an impact on how we deal with our waste. You can click on each of the Directives to access a summary and an option to view the full text on the Europa website. You can also find out more about some proposed future European waste legislation by clicking on the links to the NetRegs website.

The European Union

The UK is a Member State of the European Union (EU). The EU is an organisation of democratic countries founded on a number of treaties that form the EU Constitution. Member States work together through a number of institutions making decisions on matters of joint interest in order to progress the individual and group interest. Initially formed in order to stimulate economic co-operation between trading nations, the scope of the EU has expanded to include environmental protection, which includes the areas of waste, sustainable development and climate change.

You can find out more on the European Union website.

The EU has a strong influence on UK legislation and policy through the introduction of Directives and policy that bind the Member States to act. The UK government is actively involved in this process and ensures that UK interests are upheld during discussions and decision making.

Directives have the most significant impact on our day to day lives, as they are laws passed by the EU that Member States must transpose into domestic legislation within a given period of time. How these Directives are implemented is the decision of the individual Member State, as long as the specific requirements and goals are addressed within domestic legislation.

The EU Landfill Directive

The 1999 EU Landfill Directive (99/31/EC) is a key piece of European waste legislation, as it sets targets for all Member States to reduce the amount of waste being sent to landfill. The objective of this Directive is to prevent or reduce the adverse effects of the landfill of waste on the environment, in particular on surface water, groundwater, soil, air and human health.

The Landfill Directive is one of the key drivers behind the National Waste Strategy: Scotland. The Directive imposes minimum environmental and engineering standards for landfills across Europe and bans the landfilling of certain substances. It also requires the pre-treatment of wastes before landfilling, to both reduce waste volume and minimise the environmental impact of disposal. The Directive also requires a progressive reduction in the landfilling of biodegradable municipal solid waste (BMW), which decomposes and produces pollutants when landfilled.

From a baseline of 1995, the UK must reduce the amount of BMW being sent to landfill to:
  • 75% of 1995 levels by 2010;
  • 50% of 1995 levels by 2013;
  • 35% of 1995 levels by 2020.

This section provides an overview of some key pieces of waste-related legislation and as such should not be considered a comprehensive guide. Waste Aware Scotland endeavours to keep these pages up to date, but legislation is updated regularly and we cannot be held liable for any errors or omissions. If you have concerns over compliance with legislation, you must seek professional advice.

Waste Aware Scotland is not responsible for the content of external websites.

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