B3.6.7 European Strategy on the Prevention and Recycling of Waste


This strategy sets out guidelines for European Union (EU) action and describes the ways in which waste management can be improved.


The aim of the strategy is to reduce the negative impact on the environment that is caused by waste throughout its life-span, from production to disposal, via recycling. This approach means that every item of waste is seen not only as a source of pollution to be reduced, but also as a potential resource to be exploited.


The objectives of the Community legislation preceding the adoption of this strategy still apply, namely limiting waste, and promoting the re-use, recycling and recovery of waste. These objectives are integrated into the approach based on environmental impact and on the life-cycle of resources.


The strategy provides for existing legislation to be simplified. This will mainly be done by merging the framework Directive on waste with the Hazardous Waste Directive and the Waste Oil Directive by removing any overlap between the framework Directive on waste and the IPPC Directive (for example regarding the award of permits) as well as by consolidating the three Directives on waste from the titanium dioxide industry.


The strategy aims to limit waste production, but it does not include an overall waste-prevention target because these do not necessarily lead to improvements in the environment. Certain techniques used to reduce the volume of waste are actually more polluting than others, even if using them means greater reductions in volume.


The main focus of the strategy for preventing waste production is on reducing the environmental impact of waste and products that will become waste. In order to be effective, this impact must be reduced at every stage of a resource’s life-span. Applying the instruments set up under existing Community legislation, such as disseminating best available techniques or eco-design of products , is therefore an important factor in achieving this.


The strategy also offers a coordinated framework for specific national actions. Under the new proposal for a framework Directive on waste, the Member States are therefore required to develop programmes to prevent waste production. These programmes include specific prevention targets to be implemented at the most appropriate level and which must be made public.


The strategy aims to promote the recycling sector in order to reintroduce waste into the economic cycle in the form of quality products, while at the same time minimising the negative environmental impact of doing so.


The strategy provides for other measures, such as the exchange of information on national disposal taxes as well as, eventually, measures which would supplement the market mechanisms should these prove inadequate in increasing recycling levels.


© European Communities, 1995-2009