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The legal definition of waste and its impact on waste management in Europe

The Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (IPTS), part of the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC), has published a report on the legal definition of waste and its impact on waste management in Europe. The report was prepared in response to a request fro...

The Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (IPTS), part of the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC), has published a report on the legal definition of waste and its impact on waste management in Europe. The report was prepared in response to a request from the Committee for Environment, Public Health and Consumer Affairs of the European Parliament. Waste legislation in Europe is a very complex subject matter representing a balance between the numerous issues involved in the waste debate. Perhaps the most problematic area in this field is the definition of waste, including the distinctions between waste and non-waste and the distinction between hazardous waste and non-hazardous waste. Defining a material as waste or a secondary raw material has many consequences on what is legally permitted in its treatment, what administrative procedures apply to its transport, export or processing, and what costs will be incurred. This study was undertaken in order to identify areas where progress could be made, and to ensure that definitions do not become a barrier to an efficient and sustainable European waste management system. The report is divided into eight sections: - Introduction summarizing the main issues in the waste debate; - The various legislative definitions of waste including European, national and international definitions with emphasis on the need for harmonization; - Waste generation and European waste statistics; - Analysis of the main issues in the waste debate; - Analysis of questions relating to the definition of waste and non-waste; - Analysis of questions relating to the definition of hazardous waste or non-hazardous waste; - General discussions and recommendations; - Conclusions.