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European Commission - Press release

Environment: Commission urges Poland to comply with EU waste legislation

Brussels, 27 October 2011 – The European Commission is taking action against Poland in two cases concerning waste legislation. In the first case the Commission has identified several shortcomings in the transposition of EU legislation on the management of waste from extractive industries into Polish national legislation. In the second, the Commission has concerns about Poland's failure to adequately transpose the EU legislation on packaging waste. On the recommendation of Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik, the Commission is sending two reasoned opinions and asking Poland to comply within two months. If it fails to do so, the Commission may refer the cases to the EU Court of Justice.

Extractive mining waste

Directive 2006/21/EC on the management of extractive mining waste aims to prevent and reduce the effects of mining waste on the environment and human health. According to the Directive, an extractive waste facility needs to have an operational permit and facilities presenting a potential risk for public health or for the environment have to draft an internal and an external emergency plan to prevent major accidents and a waste management plan.

Ensuring the full transposition and enforcement of the Directive on Mining Waste is a priority for the Commission. In Poland, the mining sector remains active and includes hard coal, copper, lead and zinc extraction, quarries. New mining projects might emerge in the future including shale gas extraction. In addition, there are several closed and abandoned facilities in Poland which are also regulated under the Directive.

Directive 2006/21/EC was transposed into the Polish legislation on 10 July 2008. While many provisions of the Directive were transposed correctly, the Commission has concerns about provisions concerning the care after closure of the waste management facility, the objectives and content of the waste management plan, public access to information concerning waste management plans, the prevention of transboundary impacts of the major accidents, public participation in the review of the external emergency plans, and the application of the environmental liability regime to all the extractive waste management activities.

The Commission identified these shortcomings in a letter of formal notice sent to Poland on 17 February 2011. As amendments are yet to be adopted despite Polish commitment to amend its national law, he Commission is t sending a reasoned opinion.

Packaging waste

Directive 94/62/EC on packaging and packaging waste requires Member States to prevent the formation of packaging waste, to ensure that the weight and volume of packaging placed on the market is limited to the minimum, and to develop packaging reuse systems reducing their impact on the environment. It also introduces recovery and recycling targets for glass, paper, cardboard, metal, plastics and wood packaging to be met by Poland by 2014.

The packaging Directive was transposed into the Polish legislation on 11 May 2001. The Commission identified several shortcomings in a letter of formal notice sent on 17 February 2011. These relate to the prevention of packaging waste, the recovery and recycling targets for glass, the review of the existing regulations preventing the use of recycled packaging waste, illustrative criteria for the definition of packaging, and provisions concerning data to be included in the national database on packaging and waste packaging. In April 2011, Poland agreed to amend its domestic law. However, the Commission has concerns about the pace of the changes and is therefore sending a reasoned opinion.

Background

The extractive mining waste Directive provides for measures, procedures and guidance to prevent and reduce the effects of the extractive waste management on the environment and human health. Currently there are open infringement proceedings against 9 Member States for non-compliance with the Directive. Three of these, Poland, Hungary (see IP/11/1289) and Latvia (see IP/11/594), have reached the stage of reasoned opinion.

The packaging Directive aims to prevent and reduce packaging and packaging waste by introducing provisions on the prevention, the re-use, the recovery and the recycling of packaging waste. It covers all packaging throughout the production and consumption chain. Currently there are open infringement proceedings against 4 Member States for non-compliance with Directive 94/62/EC.

Further information:

For current statistics on infringements in general:

http://ec.europa.eu/community_law/infringements/infringements_en.htm

More details on EU extractive waste policy:

http://europa.eu/legislation_summaries/environment/waste_management/l28134_en.htm

http://ec.europa.eu/environment/waste/mining/index.htm

More details on EU packaging and packaging waste policy:

http://europa.eu/legislation_summaries/environment/waste_management/l21207_en.htm

See also:

More details on EU waste policy:

http://ec.europa.eu/environment/waste/index.htm

MEMO/11/739

Contacts :

Joe Hennon (+32 2 295 35 93)

Monica Westeren (+32 2 299 18 30)


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