Waste and recycling
By coordinating the information exchange between stakeholders from industries, Members States and environmental NGOs, the JRC-IPTS provides the Commission with BREFS, short for Reference documents containing information on the Best Available Techniques, and thus contributes to environmental protection and a sustainable development of the industrial sector.
In 2014-2017, SUSPROC will carry out the review process of the BREF on the Management of tailings and Waste-rock in mining activities (MTWR BREF).
The Directive on the management of waste from extractive industries (Mining Waste Directive, 2006/21/EC) requires that mining and quarry operators take all measures necessary to prevent or reduce any adverse environmental or human health effects related to the management of extractive waste. The first MTWR BREF was published in 2009, with most of the work performed in the time period 2001-2004. Since then, new technological developments have seen the light and new challenges have arisen in an enlarged EU. Therefore, the European Commission has now launched the process of reviewing and adapting the MTWR BREF.
Contrary to other BREF documents, managed by the European IPPC Bureau , the MTWR BREF is not subject to the Directive on industrial emissions (IED, 2010/75/EU). Nonetheless, the review process of the MTWR BREF will be based on the proven "Seville process", developed by the JRC-IPTS to guide the elaboration and review of BREF documents.
A Technical Working Group (TWG) comprising technical experts of the mining and extractive sector representing Member States, industries and environmental NGOs has been reactivated. Members of the IED Forum and Technical Adaption Committee (TAC) of the Mining Waste Directive have nominated their TWG experts as of 16 December 2013.
On 17 December 2013, SUSPROC has started collecting TWG expert positions on the MTWR BREF review through the BATIS electronic platform and guided by a position paper. This will last until 26 February 2014 and the positions will be used to prepare the Kick-Off Meeting, provisionally planned for the second quarter of 2014.
SUSPROC has been supporting the Directorate General (DG) for Environment in the elaboration and implementation of the Thematic Strategy on Prevention and Recycling of Waste since 2004. This long-term strategy aims to help Europe become a recycling society that avoids waste and uses any unavoidable waste as a resource.
Linked to this, since 2008 SUSPROC has collaborated closely with DG Environment in the implementation of the mechanism of end-of-waste criteria, introduced by Article 6 of the Waste Framework Directive of December 2008. The objective of end-of-waste criteria is to remove the administrative burdens of waste legislation for safe and high-quality waste materials, thereby facilitating recycling. The objective is achieved by requiring high material quality of recyclables, promoting product standardisation and quality assurance, and improving harmonisation and legal certainty in the recyclable material markets.
End-of-waste criteria – general methodology and analysis for waste stream selection
The Waste Framework Directive contains specific provisions to define end-of-waste criteria. In this context, from 2005–2008 SUSPROC carried out a scientific analysis of different waste streams that are candidates to being considered end-of-waste, and developed a methodology for determining end-of-waste criteria, based on a number of case studies. The outcome of this work was presented in two main reports:
- 'Study on the selection of waste streams for end-of-waste assessment'. This report identifies the waste streams that are suitable candidates for a detailed end-of-waste assessment.
- 'End-of-waste criteria, methodology and case studies'. This report presents a general methodology and guidelines analysing the principles according to which the criteria should be set up and provided the related analytical and impact assessment frameworks required to determine end-of-waste criteria. Three case studies - for aluminium & steel scrap, aggregates and compost - were conducted in this context, and are annexed to the report.
End-of-waste criteria – studies on specific recyclable waste materials
The Commission is establishing end-of-waste criteria for a number of specific recyclable materials including metal scrap of copper, aluminium and iron, waste paper, waste glass, compost, and plastics. Since 2008, SUSPROC has prepared for DG Environment a series of technical studies proposing end-of-waste criteria on these materials, using the above mentioned methodology. The studies are the result of intense consultations with experts in a technical working group, and consist of thorough techno-economic-environmental assessments that help verify when a recyclable waste material is safe for the environment and has a high enough quality to merit being released from the waste regime. The technical working group for each waste material is established with representatives of Member States, and stakeholders of industry and academia
The preparation of the technical studies is scheduled in stages, as detailed below.
Two frontrunner studies were completed in 2010 on ferrous scrap and aluminium scrap:
- End-of-waste Criteria for Iron and Steel Scrap: Technical Proposals
- End-of-waste Criteria for Aluminium and Aluminium Alloy Scrap: Technical Proposals
Based on the results of these studies, the first EoW Regulation (333/2011) was adopted and entered into force in 2011.
Since then, technical studies on waste paper, copper and copper alloy scrap, waste glass (glass cullet) and biodegradable waste have been concluded:
- End-of-waste Criteria for Waste Paper: Technical Proposals
- End-of-waste Criteria for Copper and Copper Alloy Scrap: Technical Proposals
- End-of-waste Criteria for Glass Cullet: Technical Proposals
- End-of-waste Criteria for Biodegradable waste (compost/digestate): Technical Proposals
So far, the subsequent policy initiatives have led to the development of following Regulations now in force:
- Commission Regulation on EoW for glass cullet (1179/2012)
- Commission Regulation on EoW for copper scrap (715/2013)
Furthermore, the JRC is still completing its work on possible end-of-waste criteria for waste plastics. The consultation with the Technical Working Group has now finalised, and a final JRC report with technical proposals is under preparation and will be released in the first quarter of 2014. The Final Draft of the working document, distributed in 2013, is accessible here.
The Commission may in the future develop end-of-waste criteria on additional streams such as aggregates, and waste-derived fuels. For getting a better insight into the feasibility of these materials for receiving end-of-waste status, JRC-IPTS launched two studies in 2010.
- Study on methodological aspects regarding limit values for pollutants in aggregates:
- Study on the suitability of different waste-derived fuels for end-of-waste status:
- Tender material: Tendered study on the suitability of different waste-derived fuels for end-of-waste status
- Awarded tenderer: Umweltbundesamt GmbH, Austria.
The projects started early 2011 and are now close to finalisation.
In addition to the studies above, the IPTS has analysed possible methodological approaches to monitoring the degree of uptake of end-of-waste in the EU, following the introduction of the first regulation on ferrous and aluminium scrap, EU Regulation 333/2011. At the end of 2013, IPTS launched the monitoring programme for Fe and Al scrap, which is expected to last until the third quarter of 2014.
Please note that JRC-IPTS support to DG Environment in the end-of-waste process is currently limited to the provision of technical proposals of criteria. DG Environment handles the overall policy making process, inter alia the comitology procedure. For more information on the policy making side of the Waste Framework Directive, see DG Environment's dedicated website.
View past projects in the field of waste and recycling.
Last updated: 4 September 2014