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Brussels/Strasbourg, 17 June 2008

Environment: Commission welcomes EP vote on revision of waste directive

The European Commission welcomes the European Parliament's second reading vote today approving the agreement reached with the Council on the revision of the waste framework directive, the central pillar of EU waste management policy.

European Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said: "This legislation marks a shift in thinking about waste from an unwanted burden to a valued resource and helps to make Europe a recycling society. It introduces a modernised approach to waste management, with clearer definitions, greater emphasis on prevention of waste and ambitious new recycling goals. The clear definitions and waste management principles its sets out will resolve existing interpretation problems, reduce the number of Court cases and create a sound legal basis for the functioning of the waste treatment sector."

Commissioner Dimas thanked the EP rapporteur, Caroline Jackson, and the Slovenian presidency for their work in achieving agreement on the revised directive at second reading, thus avoiding the need for conciliation negotiations.

The revised directive takes into account many of the changes proposed by the European Parliament. In summary, the directive:

  • Sets new recycling targets to be achieved by the Member States by 2020, including recycling rates of 50% for household and similar wastes and 70% for construction and demolition waste;
  • Strengthens provisions on waste prevention through an obligation for Member States to develop national waste prevention programmes and a commitment from the Commission to report on prevention and set waste prevention objectives;
  • Sets a clear, five-step "hierarchy" of waste management options according to which prevention is the preferred option, followed by reuse, recycling, other forms of recovery and with safe disposal as the last recourse.
  • Clarifies a number of important definitions, such as recycling, recovery and waste itself. In particular, it draws a line between waste and by-products and defines when waste has been recovered enough – through recycling or other treatment - to cease being waste.

The new directive will also streamline EU waste legislation by replacing three existing directives: the existing Waste Framework Directive,[1] the Hazardous Waste Directive[2] and the Waste Oils Directive.[3]

Further information:
DG ENV waste policy homepage

[1] Directive 2006/12/EC

[2] Directive 91/689/EEC

[3] Directive 75/439/EEC

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