New European Rules on Waste

By Schuttelaar & Partners 

On May 30, 2018, the European Council and the European Parliament approved and signed the Directive to amend the Waste Framework Directive. The document is part of the EU Action Plan for the Circular Economy, which contains several legislation proposals on waste. The text is now waiting to be published in the Official Journal of the European Union, and will officially enter into force 21 days after its publication. 

The adopted document contains remarkable amendments related to Construction and Demolition Waste of interest for SeRaMCo. 

First, specific definitions of construction and demolition waste and backfilling have been added. CDW is defined as waste resulting from construction and demolition activities in a general way, but also waste arising from minor do-it-yourself construction and demolition activities within private households. Backfilling is conceived as any recovery operation of suitable non-hazardous waste for the purposes of reclamation in excavated areas or for engineering purposes in landscaping. Formally defining backfilling activities is extremely important since it avoids the ambiguity that comes when terminology (and its interpretation and application) is not clear, as it was in the previous Directive.  

The elaboration of a definition of backfilling led to a further valuable change in how CDW treatments should be reported. Although still considered as part of the CDW recycling target – which stays at 70% by weight - the difference between backfilling and recycling and recovery activities is formally recognized in the reporting phase. In fact, the amount of waste used for backfilling operations shall be reported separately from the amount of waste prepared for re-use or recycled. The reprocessing of waste into materials that are to be used for backfilling operations shall be reported as backfilling.

As for the calculation of CDW target, Waste sent to another Member State for the purposes of preparing for re-use, recycling or backfilling in that other Member State may only be counted towards the attainment of the targets laid down in Articles 11(2) and (3) by the Member State in which that waste was collected. Therefore, the focus is on where waste originates rather than where it is processed. This would hopefully push Member States to set up a sorting procedure for their waste, since they will be obliged to take care of their own domestic CDW if they want to reach the target.

The only explicit deadline regarding CDW states that by 31 December 2024, the Commission shall consider the setting of preparing for reuse and recycling targets for construction and demolition waste and its material-specific fractions…  To that end, the Commission shall submit a report to the European Parliament and to the Council, accompanied, if appropriate, by a legislative proposal. It is therefore expectable that, in the coming years, stricter policies will come out concerning the targets for CDW recycling, in response to a higher need for legislative and regulatory rules and hopefully providing more room for the development of a market for secondary raw materials.  

Member States will be required to adapt their national law to the new provisions within 24 months from the entry into force of the Directive. Therefore, by the end of the SeRaMCo project, all Member States will hopefully have implemented the new regulation in their national legislation.

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