EU adopts new waste regs

EU states will have to recycle half of their household waste and almost three quarters of their construction waste by 2020 after council chiefs rubber stamped new waste regulations.

The EU Council have adopted the Waste Framework Directive after months of negotiation and a raft of amendments that were agreed in June (see related story).

The new directive is intended to prevent the creation of waste, cut landfill and promote the reuse and recycling of rubbish.

It means that member states will have to recycle 50% of household waste and 70% of construction waste within the next twelve years.

Under the terms of the regulations, incineration will be considered a recovery operation – a clause which has caused controversy among MEPs and environmental groups.

Governments will now have to draw up waste prevention programmes based on a five-step hierarchy, with waste prevention as the preferred option, followed by re-use, recycling, recovery and, finally, safe disposal.

The UK’s waste and recycling industry has already welcomed the approval of the framework.

The Environmental Services Association, a trade association for the waste and recycling sector in the UK, said it was delighted with the result.

Chief executive Dirk Hazell said: “It will now help to make Europe more economically and environmentally sustainable as we work to build Europe’s recycling society.”

The directive also simplifies existing EU waste laws by clarifying the definitions of recovery, disposal, and end-of-waste status, and defining the conditions for mixing hazardous waste.

EU countries will have two years to make the legislation part of their own national laws.

Kate Martin

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