Legislation

A Community Strategy for Waste Management was published in 1989 to address the problem of increasing amounts of waste being disposed. The

Waste Strategy, as amended in 1996 (COM(96)0339), lays down legal principles that will form the framework of the European Waste Policy. These legal principles include:

• The prevention principle: waste generation should be minimised as much as possible.

• The polluter pays principle: whoever produced the waste should pay for handling it.

• The precautionary principle: one should anticipate problems related to waste.

• The proximity principle: waste should be handled as close as possible to where it was generated.

There were three areas of significance distinguished within the Waste Strategy:

1 Waste management hierarchy: waste prevention, recovery, optimisation and minimisation of disposal must be given priority.

2 Producer responsibility: producers must take back end-of-life products.

3 Control of waste shipments: imports and exports of waste within EU countries are regulated.

The United Kingdom (UK) adopted Waste Strategy 2000 for England and Wales, which sets challenging targets for business and industry. For example, it requires the reduction of industrial waste landfilled to 85% of 1998 levels.

The Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Directive 96/61/EC lays out procedures to eliminate, prevent, and reduce pollution generated at industrial facilities. The polluter pays principle is emphasised in this directive. Certain large food processing facilities must obtain operating permits under this directive.

The EC Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive 94/62/EC (1994, amended 2004) promotes waste minimisation, reuse, and recycling. It set recycling rates for businesses of 70% recovery of packaging waste by 2008. It also set material-specific recovery targets by weight for glass (60%), paper and paperboard (60%), metals (50%), plastics (22.5%), and wood (15%).

Packaging (Essential Requirements) Regulations 2003 set requirements that all packaging items must meet before entering the UK market. Packaging volume and weight must be the minimum amount needed to meet safety and hygiene requirements, and packaging must be recoverable. The UK's system sets recovery and recycling targets for businesses that are 'producers'. Businesses required to follow the regulations are those with an annual turnover in excess of £2 million and handling more than 50 tonnes of packaging; these businesses are required to recover and recycle specified tonnages of packaging waste each year, based on the packaging that goes through their business.

The Landfill Directive (1999/31/EC) is dramatically changing the way the UK manages waste. The directive took effect in the UK on 15 June 2002 as Landfill (England and Wales) Regulations 2002. The regulations reclassified types of landfills, banned liquids and certain materials (including biodegradable wastes), and encouraged recovery and reuse of waste. This directive has tremendous implications for the food industry since they produce so much biodegradable waste. The directive will stimulate the development of technology for alternative uses of food waste. A Biowaste Directive is being developed and its final adoption is anticipated in 2006.

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