The European Union (EU) has adopted a number of Directives aimed at harmonising waste management and disposal policies throughout Europe and guaranteeing environmental protection.
The Waste Framework Directive (WFD; Directive 2006/12/EC on waste) contains the definition of waste. This definition is used to establish whether a material is a waste or not.
The WFD also requires Member States of the EU to establish both a network of disposal facilities and competent authorities with responsibility for issuing waste management authorisations and licences. Member States may also introduce regulations which specify which waste recovery operations and businesses are exempt from the licensing regimes and the conditions for those exemptions.
An important objective of the WFD is to ensure the recovery of waste or its disposal without endangering human health and the environment. Great emphasis is also placed on the prevention, reduction, re-use and recycling of waste.
The WFD has been largely implemented in the UK through the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (as amended), the Duty of Care and Carriers and Brokers regimes and regulations and the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010. More information can be found in the Key Regulations page and in this DEFRA Environmental Permitting guidance on WFD.
All construction and demolition wastes are waste under the definition of the WFD and are subject to its requirements as implemented in the UK through relevant legislation.
In December 2008, the new WFD (Directive 2008/98/EC) came into force, amending some articles of the current WFD. Member States have until December 2010 for implementing the new WFD; at that time, Directive 2006/12/EC (and others) will be repealed. Amongst others, changes that will come into place include:
The Landfill Directive (Directive 1999/31/EC on the landfill of waste) supplements the requirements of the WFD by specifying uniform technical standards at Community level and setting out requirements for the location, management, engineering, closure and monitoring for landfills. The Directive also includes requirements relating to the characteristics of the waste to be landfilled; these are supplemented by Council Decision 03/33/EC, which establishes criteria and procedures for the acceptance of waste at landfills. Further information can be found on the Regulation of Landfills and Waste Acceptance Procedures pages.
The Landfill Directive and Council Decision 2003/33/EC are implemented by Schedule 10 of the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations (EPR) 2010. Please consult this recently updated DEFRA Environmental Permitting Guidance on the Landfill Directive providing further details.
The Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Directive (the IPPC Directive; Directive 2008/1/EC) aims to minimise pollution to air, water and soil from various industrial sources throughout the European Union.
Operators of industrial and waste installations covered by Annex I of the IPPC Directive are required to obtain an authorisation (environmental permit) from the authorities in the EU countries. The regulators set permit conditions to achieve a high level of protection for the environment. The conditions are based on Best Available Techniques, which take into account costs to the operators vs benefits to the environment.
Installations covered by the IPPC Directive and dealing with waste include non-inert landfills, waste incineration facilities and plants processing (crushing) construction and demolition waste. The first two are examples of Part A activities, regulated for emissions to different media (e.g. air, water, soil), while crushing of construction and demolition waste (e.g. for the production of recycled aggregates) is a Part B activity, regulated for emissions to air only.
The IPPC Directive is implemented in England and Wales by the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010. The most polluting activities, i.e. Part A(1) activities, are regulated by the Environment Agency, while Part A(2) and Part (B) activities are regulated by Local Authorities. An overview of the implementation and regulation of the IPPC regime is available from DEFRA.
The Mining Waste Directive (MWD; Directive 2006/21/EC on the management of waste from extractive industries) covers the management of waste from land-based extractive industries, including from the working of quarries.
It specifies a number of requirements to ensure protection of the environment and human health, depending on the risks posed by the type of waste. Inert waste and unpolluted soils are considered low risk, hence regulated with a lighter touch. However all wastes regulated by the MWD are subject to the requirement for operators to provide a waste management plan for the minimisation, treatment, recovery and disposal of the extractive waste.
The Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2010 implement most of the Mining Waste Directive in England and Wales. More details are available from the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010 page.