European Commission causing problems for industry over waste directives

A UK parliamentary committee has criticised the European Commission for its lack of preparedness regarding a number of waste directives, which is causing “a great deal of uncertainty for waste producers and the waste management industry”.

The House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, based in London, notes that the most immediate changes are those under the Landfill Directive, which came into effect on 16 July this year (see related story). “This is despite the fact that crucial technical requirements of the Landfill Directive have still not been agreed,” said the Committee in a statement. “We are profoundly concerned that this should have occurred.”

The Committee states that landfill operators are being required to make crucial decisions about the future designations of their sites without the Waste Acceptance Criteria having been agreed upon. “We can only reiterate our previous recommendations, made in relation to the disposal of refrigerators, that in cases such as this, which require radical changes in the practices of an important industry, any new item of European legislation should not be agreed until all the practical implications of implementation are well-understood,” says the Committee.

However, the Committee also reserves criticism for the UK Government for its lack of an adequate strategic relationship with the waste management industry, and for the under-funding of the country’s environmental watchdog, the Environment Agency.

The UK government has faced considerable criticism this year over its lack of preparation for new European legislation requiring that the disposal of fridges should be carried out without releasing ozone-depleting substances. However, Environment Minister Michael Meacher has stated that the situation has arisen due to a lack of clarification from the European Commission as to what exactly was required from industry (see related story).

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