On 21 December 2005, the European Commission proposed a Waste Framework Directive to the European Parliament and the Council. Parliament and Council adopted the Directive on 19 November 2008 (WAS-001).
This Directive sets out a mechanism to tackle one of the issues around the waste definition: criteria to determine when some waste streams cease to be waste (for example, when composted biological waste becomes compost). It revised the 1975 Waste Framework Directive in order to set recycling standards and to force EU Member States to develop national waste prevention programmes. This revision also merged, streamlined and clarified legislation, contributing to better regulation.
The main changes of the Waste Framework Directive are:
- Introduction of an environmental goal;
- Clarification of the concepts of useful application and disposal;
- Clarification of the conditions under which hazardous waste may be mixed;
- Introduction of a procedure to clarify the conditions under which waste ceases to be waste;
- Introduction of minimum standards or of a procedure to establish minimum standards for a range of waste management operations;
- Introduction of requirements to develop national programmes for the waste prevention.
This Directive establishes measures to reduce the environmental impacts of production and waste management. The Directive also stipulates that Member States should establish priority measures to prevent or to reduce their waste production. Secondly, it aims at ensuring waste recovery through reusing, recycling and other applicable proceedings.
A significant detail for seaports, which has been discussed in the European Parliament and at the Council, is the appreciation of dredged-material from the point of view of this framework. Initially, the proposal considered as waste “all substances we want to get rid of??. Thus, sediment removed for nautical reasons and dispersed elsewhere in the same water system, was considered to be waste. However, this approach is not practical at all, especially when looking at the enormous amount of sediment from tidal ports that has to be removed regularly. From an environmental point of view, there is no reason to bring clean sediment within the scope of this Directive. Clean sediment should be either dispersed in salt waters or used on land.
Without prejudice to obligations under other relevant Community legislation, sediments relocated inside surface waters for the purpose of managing waters and waterways or of preventing floods or mitigating the effects of floods and droughts or land reclamation shall be excluded from the scope of this Directive if it is proved that the sediments are non-hazardous.
Some relevant documents:
WAS-001: Directive 2008/98/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 November 2008 on waste and repealing certain Directives (European Parliament and the Council)