Overview

Food wastes and effluents are rich in biodegradable components with high biological oxygen demand (BOD) and chemical oxygen demand (COD) content. If they are unmanaged and untreated, their uncontrolled decomposition is hazardous to the environment due to the production of methane and toxic materials (Waldron et al., 2004). In order to reduce the impact of waste, a range of waste management strategies have been adopted at national and international levels. In the European Community (EC), a Community Strategy for Waste Management (see Sanders and Crosby, 2004) was published in 1989 and amended in 1996 (COM(96)0339) setting out key legal principles, including: (1) the prevention principle - to limit waste production; (2) the polluter pays principle - i.e. the polluter should pay for dealing with the waste; (3) the precautionary principle - waste problems should be predicted; (4) the proximity principle - as far as it is possible to do so, waste problems should be addressed near or at the place of production. These principles were created to form the framework of European waste policy. Sanders and Crosby (2004) have also highlighted three particular areas of importance within the strategy: (1) a waste management hierarchy (Fig. 1.5; AWARENET, 2004; DEFRA 1) in which priority should be given to the prevention and recovery of waste, and the optimization and minimization of disposal (often referred to as the '3 "R"s' 'reduce, reuse and recycle'); (2) producer responsibility whereby producers must take back end-of-life products; (3) control of waste shipments, with references to importing and exporting of waste within European Union (EU) countries.

Seven Levels Classification

In the EU, legislation comprises directives (to be implemented through the national legislation of member states) and regulations (directly applicable). In the United Kingdom (UK), information on implementation of EU directives via UK Government legislation may be found on the DEFRA website (DEFRA 2), and related links. In 1975, the EU introduced the Waste Framework Directive (WFD) (75/442/EEC) which was later modified by Directive 91/156/EEC to take into account the principles from the Community Strategy for Waste Management (1989 above). The overall regulatory and legislative arena concerning 'waste' covers a very broad range of materials and industrial sectors. Therefore it is appropriate to highlight the main legislation relevant to food industry waste as highlighted by AWARENET. These include:

1 Council Directive 96/61/EC on Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control - which seeks to prevent/reduce/eliminate pollution at source;

2 Council Directive 1999/31/EC on Landfill - which sets national targets for reduction of landfill of biodegradable municipal waste;

3 Regulation 1774/2002 on health rules regarding animal by-products not fit for human consumption;

4 Council Directive 2000/76/EC on incineration - to limit negative effects on the environment and human health.

At the time of the AWARENET report, a future directive on biowaste was foreseen prior to the end of 2004. However, this does not appear to have materialized. Indications are that biowaste will be dealt with under the auspices of other legislative activites. Further information on EU legislation may be found in Table 1.1. Details of the legislation content may be found on the Europa websites (Europa, 2006). A more comprehensive overview of legislation (as of 2004) may be found in Sanders and Crosby (2004) and AWARENET (2004). A general history of waste legislation in the EU may be found on the EU Environmental Information and Legislation Database (see Section 1.9).

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