The reference document for the Waste Management sector

Waste Management The European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) is identifying best environmental management practices (BEMPs) for the waste management sector and developing a sectoral reference document (SRD). Waste management is a key sector in terms of resource efficiency where best practice, going well beyond regulatory requirements, can be of great benefit.

This activity is part of the JRC work on identification of best environmental management practice and development of EMAS Sectoral Reference Documents for different sectors.

The best practices target two main groups of actors: waste management companies and public authorities in charge of waste management (waste authorities), especially at local level (local authorities).

The best practices are identified on the basis of an analysis of the initiatives/measures/techniques/actions implemented by frontrunner (best performing) organisations within the sector. On the basis of this research, the document presents extensively best environmental management practices (BEMPs), environmental performance indicators and benchmarks of excellence in the fields of:

  • Establishing an integrated waste management strategy.
  • Waste prevention and re-use.
  • Waste collection.
  • Waste treatment facilities.
  • Implementation of producer responsibility scheme.

For areas covered by the Best Available Technique (BAT) Reference Document (BREF) for the Waste Treatment Industry, the SRD will not describe BEMPs but refer to the relevant guidance in terms of best available techniques available in the BREF.

Work plan

The JRC hired an external contractor, BZL (Germany), in cooperation with E3 (UK), to produce a background report to be used as a basis for the development of the sectoral reference document. In the meantime, the JRC established a Technical Working Group (TWG) comprising experts in environment and waste management to gather and review information and to validate the best environmental management practices, environmental performance indicators and benchmarks of excellence. The kick-off meeting of the TWG took place on 30 September - 1 October 2015 in Leuven (Belgium).

Based on the inputs and comments provided by the TWG at the kick-off meeting and during further cooperation, BZL/E3 further developed the background report which was completed in May 2016. On those basis and thanks to inputs from the TWG, the JRC developed the background report into a draft best practice report to be reviewed by the TWG and finalised over the course of 2017.

In the meanwhile, a second meeting of the TWG was held on 28-29 March 2017 in Seville (Spain). The meeting focused on discussing and agreeing indicators that local waste authorities and waste management companies can use to assess and monitor the environmental performance of waste management systems.

On the basis of the outcome of the meeting and the subsequent interaction with the members of the TWG, the JRC finalised the complete description of all the BEMPs and all the indicators agreed at the second meeting. In the meanwhile, the JRC carried out data collection and, on the basis of the data collected and of the discussions on setting benchmarks that took place at the second meeting, the JRC made a number of proposals of benchmarks of excellence, which were shared with the technical working group for comments in November-December 2017.

On the basis of the feedback and discussion with the Technical Working Group, the JRC elaborated the best practice report, published in May 2018, including the final version of all the BEMPs, indicators and benchmarks.

In the meanwhile, the European Commission is developing on its basis the related EMAS sectoral reference document on best environmental management practice for the waste management sector, which will undergo the process for its adoption over the course of 2018.

Project Team and Contacts

The following people are part of the JRC EMAS SRD team:

  • Paolo Canfora
  • Marco Dri
  • Ioannis Antonopoulos
  • Pierre Gaudillat

If you have any question on the work carried out in this area or if you would like to contribute to the identification of best environmental management practices, please feel free to contact us. The best way to do so is sending an e-mail to JRC-EMAS-SRD@ec.europa.eu.