Meaning Of Waste According To Eu Directives
The definition of waste cannot be dependent on the disposer's subjective intentions.
Statute Reference Directive 75/442/EEC (Waste Framework Directive), Directive 78/319/EEC on toxic and dangerous waste.
The Italian authorities referred to the European Court of Justice
a question regarding the meaning of waste after two Italians
appealed against a decision which alleged that they had collected,
transported and stored waste contrary to the Italian law which was
intended to implement the above directives. The issue was whether
the matter in question was "waste" within the meaning of the
Directive 75/442/EEC defines "waste" as meaning: any substance or object which the holder disposes of or is required to dispose of pursuant to the provisions of national law in force.
Disposal is then defined as: the collection, sorting, transport and treatment of waste as well as its storage and treatment above or under ground or the transformation operations necessary for its re-use, recovery or recycling.
In this case the argument had been raised that the material was not "waste", but was recyclable matter.
The Advocate General referred to these definitions in finding the recyclable matter to be waste. He further added that "waste" must be objectively defined and could not be dependent on the disposer's subjective intentions. The court agreed that the directive clearly embraced recyclable material.
Joined cases 206/88 and 207/88 (LMELR, 1990 2(4)) Statute Reference Directive 75/442/EEC (Waste Framework Directive), Directive 78/319/EEC on toxic and dangerous waste.
The EPA 90 does not define disposal. It is
therefore always worthwhile recalling that 75/442/EEC defines it as:
the collection, sorting, transport and treatment of waste as well as its storage and treatment above or under ground or the transformation operations necessary for its reuse, recovery or recycling
Directive 75/442/EEC, although amended by 91/156/EEC, still remains the Framework Directive. It is, therefore, to that directive that the UK waste manager or director must first turn, initially to determine if those materials, on the margin of being waste or process materials, fall under the whole EU and UK waste management control regime. Then the manager should turn to Directive 91/156/EEC, the Waste Management Licensing Regulations 1994 (SI 1994 No. 1056) and DoE Circular 11/94.
The Court's ruling in Vessoso and Zanetti was that:
the concept of waste within the meaning of Article 1 of Directive 75/442 and Article 1 of Directive 78/319, is not to be understood as excluding substances and objects which are capable of economic reutilisation. The concept does not presume that the holder disposing of a substance or an object intends to exclude any economic reutilisation of the substance or object by others.
Disregarding the double negative and the somewhat convoluted language, the Court's judgment in this case supports the conclusion that substances such as contaminated solvents, which are destined for a specialised recovery operation, are to be characterised as waste.
However, there has always been controversy as to whether the intention of any party can be relevant in determining whether a material is waste. There is now some support to be gained from DoE Circular 11/94 of 19 April 1994, in that the DoE states at paragraph 2.50:
There are likely to be few cases in which a change of intention by the person to whom waste has been transferred is sufficient in itself to result in the substance or object concerned ceasing to be waste.
Any such cases are likely to occur only where it transpires that the subject or object which has been transferred as waste is, in fact, fit for use in its present form (albeit after repair) or in the same way as any other material without being subjected to a specialised recovery operation.
The general conclusion to be drawn from Vessoso and Zanetti is that, where there is a question of interpretation, the European Court of Justice is inclined to include any material as waste and judge it subject to the environmental legislation rather than encourage any reasoning as to why it is not waste.