Landfill Ruling: Case C-6/03 Deponiezweckverband Eiterkopfe

Judgement was issued on 14 April by the European Court of Justice in respect of a reference to the ECJ for a preliminary ruling on an aspect of interpretation of the Landfill Directive (Directive 1991/31/EC).

The reference was made to the ECJ during proceedings brought before the Administrative Court in Koblenz, Germany by the association Deponiezweckverband Eiterköpfe (Deponiezweckverband) against the Land of Rheinland-Palatinate concerning an authorisation to operate a landfill site. The Deponiezweckverband had sought a permit from the Land of Rheinland-Palatinate, in order to fill, after 31 May 2005 and until 31 December 2013 at the latest, two landfill cells with waste that had previously been treated by mechanical processes only. However the national law had a requirement, additional to that contained within the Directive, whereby municipal waste, which was to be sent to landfill, had to have a particular organic content.

The ECJ held that it was not contrary to Article 5(1) and (2) of the Landfill Directive that a measure of domestic law should fix limits in respect of the acceptance of biodegradable waste for landfill lower than those fixed by the Directive, even if those limits are so low that they call for treatment by mechanical and biological processes or the incineration of such waste before it is landfilled. It was also held to be valid for the Directive provisions to be applied not only to biodegradable waste but also to non-biodegradable organic substances, and not only to municipal waste but also to waste that may be disposed of as municipal waste. It was therefore lawful for Germany to apply more stringent measures than those set out in the Directive. The Court also held that the principle of proportionality is not applicable where the case concerns more stringent protective measures of domestic law adopted by virtue of Article 176 EC and which go beyond minimum requirements laid down within Directives within the sphere of the environment, so long as other provisions of the Treaty are not involved.

Judgement C-6/03 can be found in English at the following link:

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