Summary of the current EU waste legislation

Please note that this is just a summary of relevant EU Waste legislation. Do note that later amendments are not included in these links and for a full analysis, all need to be assessed. More EU legislation and in all EU languages can be found here

Legal Basis:

  • The Lisbon Treaty, amending the Treaty of the European Union and the Treaty Establishing the European Community. Launched in December 2007, states that the environment is one of the areas with shared competence between the European Union and the Member States (Art. 2C(2e)).

Legislation with relevance for Municipal Waste:

  • Waste Framework Directive (Directive 2018/851 of the European Parliament and the Council on amending Directive 2008/98/EC on waste). It sets the basic concepts and definitions related to waste management, such as definitions of waste or recycling. It introduces the waste hierarchy, the Polluter Pays principle and the Extended Producer Responsibility and sets out separate collection targets. This includes the Waste Oil Directive 75/439/EEC, which was repealed as of 12 December 2010 (info). Further details here.
  • Landfill Directive (Directive 2018/850 of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 1999/31/EC on the landfill of waste). It aims to prevent or reduce the adverse effects of the landfill of waste on the environment. It defines the different categories of waste and applies to all landfills. It also classifies the types of landfills and obliges Member States to minimize biodegradable waste to landfills. More details here.
  • Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (Directive 2018/852/EC 2018/852 of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 94/62/EC on packaging and packaging waste). It sets out measures and requirements for the prevention, re-use and recovery of packaging wastes in Member States. Member States must ensure that packaging placed on the market complies with the essential requirements. The Directive implies the Producer Responsibility principle.
  • Single Use Plastic Directive (Directive 2019/904 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment). It intends to reduce the consumption of this type of plastics and states that Extender Producer Responsibility is involved in the targets as well as calls the Member States to ensure separate collection. It also sets out a list of SUP products. Details on the EU plastic strategic here.
  • Plastic Bags Directive (Directive 2015/720 of the European Parliament and of the Council 2015 amending Directive 94/62/EC as regards reducing the consumption of lightweight plastic carrier bags). It is an amendment to the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (94/62/EC) and was adopted to deal with the unsustainable consumption and use of lightweight plastic carrier bags.
  • Batteries Directive (Directive 2018/849 of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directives 2000/53/EC on end-of-life vehicles, 2006/66/EC on batteries and accumulators and waste batteries and accumulators, and 2012/19/EU on waste electrical and electronic equipment). It establishes rules regarding the placing on the market of batteries and accumulators and, and a prohibition of those which contain hazardous substances. It also includes rules for the collection, treatment, recycling and disposal. The European Commission is currently working on a proposal for a regulation.
  • WEEE Directive (Directive 2012/19/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) (recast 2018/849/EC)). The WEEE Directive establishes an obligation to collect WEEE separately for sorting and recycling, it sets a detailed framework for Extended Producer Responsibility and aims to provide incentives to improve the design of electrical and electronic equipment to facilitate recycling. It was introduced to prevent the generation of WEEE and to promote reuse, recycling and other forms of recovery. Further details
  • Waste Shipment Regulation (Regulation (EC) No 1013/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council on shipments of waste). It specifies the procedures for controlling waste shipments to improve environmental protection and sets out a system of control for the movement of waste. It concerns almost all types of waste shipped. The European Commission is currently working on a proposal for revision.
  • Basel Convention on the control of transboundary movements of hazardous wastes and their disposal. It is an international treaty that aims to reduce the movements of hazardous waste between nations. More information here.
  • Ecodesign Directive (Directive 2009/125/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a framework for the setting of ecodesign requirements for energy-related products (recast). It provides EU-wide rules for improving the environmental performance of products, such as household appliances, information and communication technologies or engineering. It sets out minimum mandatory requirements for the energy efficiency of these products. Further details here.
  • Industrial Emissions Directive (Directive 2010/75/EU on industrial emissions (integrated pollution prevention and control, recast). It aims to prevent and control the environmental impact of industrial activities. All industrial installations, including waste incineration and co-incineration plants in the EU, must have an environmental permit based on the requirements imposed by this directive. The Waste Incineration Directive and legislation on titanium dioxide was replaced by the IED.
  • Waste Statistics Regulation (Regulation (EC) No 2150/2002 of the European Parliament and of the Council on waste statistics). It creates a framework for the production of waste management statistics at EU level, which provides the EU with data in order to monitor the implementation of the Community policy on the generation, recovery and disposal of waste.
  • PCB/PCT Disposal Directive (Council Directive 96/59/EC on the disposal of polychlorinated biphenyls and polychlorinated terphenyls (PCB/PCT).It addresses the controlled disposal of this substances, the decontamination or disposal of equipment containing PCBs and/or the disposal of used PCBs in order to eliminate them completely. Further details here.

Other Waste Legislation that does not come under municipal waste:

  • End-of-life Vehicles Directive (Directive 2000/53/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on end-of-life vehicles, amended by Directive 2018/849). It aims to limit the production of waste arising from end-of-life vehicles and to increase re-use, recycling and recovery of end-of-life vehicles and their components. It establishes a collection rate for reuse, recovery and recycling. This Directive implies the manufacturers product responsibility.
  • Directive 2005/64/EC on the type-approval of motor vehicles with regard to their reusability, recyclability and recoverability and amending Council Directive 70/156/EEC. It requires vehicle manufacturers to comply with minimum thresholds for the reuse, recycling and recovery of the component parts and materials of new vehicles. The aim is to ensure that vehicles are designed to facilitate processing at the end of their life cycle.
  • RoHS Directive (Directive 2011/65/EU on the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment, recast). It requires the substitution of various heavy metals by other substances in new electrical and electronic equipment entering the market. More details here.
  • Animal By-products Regulation (Regulation (EC) No 1069/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 October 2009 laying down health rules as regards animal by-products and derived products not intended for human consumption and repealing Regulation (EC) No 1774/2002 (Animal by-products Regulation). This Directive is linked to food safety but also to biodegradable operations. It lays down rules for composting and biogas plants which treat animal by-products.
  • Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (Council Directive of 21 May 1991 concerning urban waste water treatment (91/271/EEC). It concerns the collection, treatment and discharge of urban waste water and the treatment and discharge of waste water from certain industrial sectors. It aims to protect the environment from the adverse effects of the urban waste water discharges.
  • Sewage Sludge in Agriculture Directive (Directive of 12 June 1986 on the protection of the environment, and in particular of the soil, when sewage sludge is used in agriculture (86/278/EEC). It regulates the use of sewage sludge in agriculture to prevent harmful effects on environment and health. It sets maximum values of concentrations of heavy metals. Further information here.
  • Mining Waste Directive (Directive 2006/21/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 March 2006 on the management of waste from extractive industries and amending Directive 2004/35/EC). It provides for measures, proedures and guidance to prevent or reduce any adverse effects on the environment and human health, brought about as a result of the management of waste from the extractive industries. More information here.

Moreover, there are a number of relevant European Commission’s communications which are worthy of particular attention due to the strong link to the EU waste policy and circular economy:

  • The European Green Deal (11/12/2020) provides the overall EU strategy to achieve the efficient use of resources by moving from a linear to a circular economy model and aims to restore biodiversity and cut pollution. In particular, it identifies a need to reduce waste generation and foresee changes in the EU waste collection.
  • The Circular Economy Action Plan 2.0 (11/03/2020) announces specific strategies to move from a linear to a circular model on a wide range of materials (plastics, textiles, food, batteries, construction, etc.) and foresees waste reduction targets as well as actions to promote reuse, repair and recycling.
  • EU Methane Strategy (14/10/2020) aims to reduce emissions of methane from anthropogenic sources derived from energy, agriculture and waste sectors. It intends to promote biogas, digestate (as soil improver) and bio-materials production from municipal waste, agriculture waste, manure and waterwaste. In particular, it foresees promotion of composting and anaerobic digestion.
  • Critical Raw Materials Strategy (03/09/2020) establishes 10 actions in order to boost research and innovation on critical raw materials and foster energy transition while reducing EU reliance on non-EU countries. In particular, the strategy foresees research on second life (re-use and re-purposing), collection rates, recycling efficiency and recovery of materials, recycled content and extended producer responsibility; but also domestic mining.
  • EU Renovation Wave (14/10/2020) intends to improve the energy performance of buildings by at least doubling renovation rates in the next ten years and make sure renovations lead to higher energy and resource efficiency. Particularly, it proposes to promote the development of standardised sustainable industrial solutions and the reuse of waste material and the revision of the material recovery targets set in EU legislation for construction and demolition waste by the end of 2024.
  • European Sustainable Investment Plan (14/01/2020) is the investment pillar of the European Green Deal and will apparently mobilise at least €1 trillion of sustainable investments over the next decade. It intends to facilitate and stimulate the public and private investments needed for the transition to a climate-neutral, “green” economy.
  • 8Th Environment Action Programme (14/10/2020). This is a proposal for a Decision of the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union that will guide the European environment policy until 2030. It establishes 6 priority objectives linked to the transition to a circular economy, the zero-pollution ambition, the restoration of the biodiversity or a climate-neutral continent by 2050, to mention just a few.

Last update: November 2020