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Waste Framework Directive

The WFD and its requirements

The Waste Framework Directive (EC) 2008/9871 (WFD) sets the basic concepts and definitions related to waste management, including definitions of waste, recycling, and recovery.

From an overarching perspective, the directive requires waste to be managed under the following criteria:

  • not endangering human health or harming the environment;
  • without risk to water, air, soil, plants, or animals;
  • without causing a nuisance through noise or odours;
  • and without adversely affecting the countryside or places of special interest.

The origin of the Waste Framework Directive

The foundation of EU waste management is the “waste hierarchy”, established in the WFD (adapted from Dutch ladder van Lansink). It establishes an order of preference for managing and disposing of waste. Based on this hierarchy it should be noted that regardless of material origin (fossil or bio) and regardless of its degradability profile, loss of material after its service life should be prevented.

Furthermore, the WFD explains when waste ceases to be waste and becomes a secondary raw material, and how to distinguish between waste and by-products. This legal transition from waste to non-waste is called the End-of-waste status.

For hazardous wastes, the Waste Framework Directive provides additional labelling, record keeping, monitoring, and control obligations from the “cradle to the grave”, in other words from the waste production to the final disposal or recovery. An example of this is the mandatory record-keeping in ECHA`s SCIP database.

It also bans the mixing of hazardous waste with other categories of hazardous waste, and with non-hazardous waste. The classification into hazardous and non-hazardous waste is based on the system for the classification and labelling of dangerous substances and preparations (CLP regulation). This ensures that similar principles are applied over the whole life cycle of materials.

Waste hierarchy

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