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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 21 June 2012

Environment: Commission urges Cyprus and Lithuania to comply with EU waste legislation

Two Member States have not correctly interpreted or applied EU waste laws: Cyprus (for landfill) and Lithuania (for packaging waste), causing harm to human health and the environment, potentially creating barriers to trade and distorting competition. On the recommendation of Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik, the Commission is referring Cyprus to the European Court of Justice and sending Lithuania a reasoned opinion, requesting amendments to its national legislation. If Lithuania fails to reply within two months, the Commission may also refer their case to the Court.

The EU Landfill Directive is intended to prevent or reduce the adverse effects of the landfill of waste on the environment, in particular on surface water, groundwater, soil, air and human health. Under the Directive, existing landfills must meet certain conditions in order to continue to operate. In Cyprus several landfills have been found to be operating in violation of the directive. While progress has been made through the closure and rehabilitation of a number of landfills and the establishment of an adequate waste management system, six landfills continue to operate in breach of the EU legislation. These landfills still absorb the waste generated by the municipalities of Nicosia and Limassol, as adequate waste infrastructure has yet to be built in these municipalities. The Commission sent a related reasoned opinion to Cyprus in January 2012, but the reply indicated full compliance is not expected before 2015. Consequently the Commission decided to refer the case to the Court.

The Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive covers all packaging waste regardless of the material used, and is intended to reduce the volume of waste and encourage sustainable growth. As Lithuania had not correctly incorporated the Directive's provisions into national law, the Commission sent a letter of formal notice in May 2011. Lithuania has since corrected the majority of instances of non-compliance, but one issue still needs to be properly reflected in its legislation: the requirement for packaging to comply with the relevant harmonised EU standards. This smoothens the functioning of the internal market by ensuring that packaging manufactured in one Member State can be used in another Member State without obstructions. The Commission is therefore sending a reasoned opinion.

Background

The landfill waste Directive is a key instrument to prevent or reduce as far as possible negative effects on the environment from landfilling of waste, during the whole life-cycle of the landfill. The Directive bans or reduces the landfilling of certain wastes and defines technical requirements for the authorisation, design, operation, closure and after-care of landfills. Landfills that were already in operation when the Directive became applicable had time until 16 July 2009 to adapt to the requirements of the Directive

The packaging and packaging waste Directive 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 that were to be met by Lithuania by 2008. It covers all packaging throughout the production and consumption chain.

Further information:

For current statistics on infringements in general:

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

See also: MEMO/12/464

More details of EU policies on waste:

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

Contacts :

Joe Hennon (+32 2 295 35 93)

Monica Westeren (+32 2 299 18 30)


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