16 September 1993
on the management, treatment, recycling
and marketing of waste
(Rapporteur: Mr RUFFY,
Switzerland, Socialist Group)
The constant increase in the quantity and harmfulness of waste have become major concerns of environmental policy and of efforts to improve our quality of life. It has to be stressed that, without a major change in life styles, we face a dramatic and irreversible deterioration of the environment because of waste.
In order to face up to this increasing flux of waste, it is necessary to try to change our "general waste culture", that is to say set up policies designed to change life styles, methods of production and consumer behaviour, which, in your Rapporteur's opinion, lie at the heart of the problem.
Consequently, it is essential to emphasise the importance of awareness and training programmes, undertaken in conjunction with local authorities, business and industry, non-governmental organisations, consumer associations and the general public. Further, any waste management strategy must be based on the following order of priorities: prevention — recovery — disposal, with reduction at source being the priority of priorities. It is also important to hold responsible those who are at the origin of waste and to exercise strict international control on the transfrontalier movements of waste.
I. Draft recommendation
1. The constant increase in the quantity and harmfulness of waste have become major concerns of environmental policy and of efforts to improve the quality of life.
2. Since the increase is the consequence of production processes, marketing methods and consumption patterns, it has to be stressed that, without a major change in life styles, we face a dramatic and irreversible deterioration of the environment.
3. Under these circumstances, the Assembly considers that the concept of sustainable development, as defined in the work of the United Nations Organisation, particularly that of the Brundtland Commission, and reaffirmed at the Rio Conference, must form the basis of any waste management policy.
4. The Assembly therefore wishes to stress that the best way of solving the problem of waste is — first of all — to reduce the quantity produced, through a policy designed to change life styles, methods of production and consumer behaviour.
5. In this context, the Assembly draws attention to the importance of awareness and training programmes, undertaken in conjunction with local authorities, business and industry, non-governmental organisations, consumer associations and the general public.
6. It is convinced that any waste management strategy must be based on the following order of priorities, prevention — recovery — disposal, with reduction at source being the priority of priorities.
7. Programmes to promote waste recovery, and in particular recycling and the marketing of recycled products, should be established, so that waste disposal becomes the last resort in the waste management cycle.
8. The successful implementation of such a policy calls for a balanced range of regulations and financial incentives to stimulate industry to rethink the way it manufactures and packages products, in order to reduce the volume of waste and encourage distributors and consumers to opt for materials which can be recycled in complete safety.
9. In order to cope with the growing costs of waste treatment, the Assembly considers that the "polluter-pays" principle, which makes waste producers or holders responsible for meeting the real cost of its disposal, must be given statutory force.
10. The Assembly considers that there must be strict civil liability — that is irrespective of any negligence on the part of the producers or holders — for any damage to the environment caused by waste.
11. It stresses the need for closer harmonisation of national legislation in this field, to establish the conditions for fair competition, thereby avoiding artificial flows of investment and waste towards countries where conditions are less onerous.
12. In this context, it notes the efforts made by the European Community, which may serve as a source of inspiration for the Council of Europe's other member states.
13. While continuing to be aware of the complexity of issues relating to responsibility in this area, it wishes to stress the key role played by territorial authorities, whether local or regional, in waste management.
14. Finally, the Assembly supports the strict control of transfrontier shipments of waste and reaffirms the principle of proximity in waste management, while at the same time emphasising the importance of active transfrontier co-operation in solving problems linked to waste treatment.
15. In this context, the Assembly reiterates the need to ensure that the countries of central and eastern Europe do not become a new destination for waste from the rest of Europe, on account of their less strict regulations.
16. It therefore recommends that the Committee of Ministers:
i. adopt the Additional Protocol to the European Outline Convention on Transfrontier Co-operation as soon as possible;
ii. invite the Steering Committee on Local and Regional Authorities to include studies of the role played by territorial authorities in waste management in its activities and to prepare models for practical solutions;
iii. ask the Standing Conference of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe to develop a training programme on issues relating to waste management, to be implemented within the framework of the European network of training centres for local and regional authority staff, part of which would be specifically aimed at the countries of central and eastern Europe;
iv. invite the European Community to ratify the Basle Convention on the control of transboundary movements of hazardous wastes as soon as possible;
v. invite the member states to:
a. implement national waste management plans in order to restrict waste production, encourage the introduction of appropriate collection and treatment systems and promote recovery and recycling;
b. rapidly ratify the Basle Convention on the control of transboundary movements of hazardous wastes;
c. ratify, as soon as possible, the Council of Europe Convention on civil liability for damage resulting from activities dangerous to the environment.
II. Explanatary memorandum
by Mr RUFFY
I. Overview of the situation 7
II. Geographical scope of the report 9
First part: The different aspects of the problem 9
I. General strategy for waste management 9
1. Prevention 10
2. Re-use 10
3. Disposal 12
II. Categories of waste and its treatment 12
1. Inert waste 12
2. Ordinary waste 13
2.1. Household waste and bulky items 13
2.2. Ordinary industrial waste 14
2.2.1. Ferrous and non-ferrous scrap 14
2.2.2. Paper and cardboard 14
2.2.3. Glass 15
2.2.4. Plastic materials 15
2.2.5. Rubber and tires 15
2.2.6. Textiles 16
2.2.7. Wood waste and by-products 16
2.2.8. Organic waste from the agri-foodstuffs industry
and stock farming 17
3. Special waste 17
3.1. Special industrial waste 17
3.2. Hospital waste 18
3.3. Toxic waste in widely dispersed quantities 18
3.4. Radioactive waste 19
4. Final waste 20
III. The different participants in the process 20
1. Responsibilities with regard to waste management 20
1.1. Local authority responsibilities 20
1.2. Other participants in the process under the polluter-pays principle 21
1.3. Various European examples 22
2. Community legislation 24
2.1. Current legislation 24
2.2. Proposals for new Community directives 25
IV. Shipments and transport of waste 26
1. Community legislation 27
1.1. Directives on the transfrontier transport of hazardous waste 27
1.2. Regulation on the supervision and control of shipments of waste
within, into and out of the European Community 27
1.3. The Lomé Convention 29
2. International agreements 29
2.1. The Basle Convention 29
2.2. Other international instruments 30
3. The specific case of frontier regions (example France — Germany) 31
V. Civil liability for damage 32
1. Convention on civil liability for damage resulting from activities
dangerous to the environment 32
2. Proposal for a Council directive on civil liability for damage
or injury to the environment caused by waste 34
Second part: Proposed solutions 35
I. Policies to reduce waste movements at source 35
1. The eco-audit 36
2. Clean technologies 36
3. Ecoproducts 37
4. Industrial good conduct 37
II. Training and greater awareness 38
1. Raising public awareness 38
2. Training elected decision makers and specialists 39
III. The search for more effective waste recycling and
disposal techniques 39
1. Recycling techniques 39
2. Disposal techniques 40
2.1. Tipping 40
2.2. Incineration 41
2.3. Composting 41
2.4. Physico-chemical treatment 41
IV. Other proposals 42
The Council of Europe was undoubtedly one of the first organisations to draw attention to the importance of the problems caused by waste. Thus, at the European Conference on Nature Conservation, held in Strasbourg in February 1970 to inaugurate the European Nature Year, the theme of waste was considered alongside those of air and water.
In its final declaration, the conference drew attention to the principal problems of the day: caring for the natural environment and the disposal and re-use of the by-products and waste of contemporary society.
However, for several more years, the attention of experts and politicians focused mainly on water and air pollution.
It took an initiative of the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly in 1974-75 to draw the attention of the European public and leading figures to the specific problems which waste posed for the environment. The report presented by Senator Minocci in January 1975 considered the problems linked to the management of urban and industrial waste and described a situation in which waste production in both Europe and the United States was already very significant.
One of the report's main conclusions was that a key role had to played by local authorities which, with adequate state support, should have prime responsibility for waste management.
Since then, the Council of Europe has continued to monitor the problem of waste, whether in committees of government experts, its Assembly or the Standing Conference of Local and Regional Authorities. The Assembly has now chosen to highlight the different aspects of the problem facing society and to put forward possible solutions.
With regard to presentation, the Rapporteur proposes first to examine the different categories of waste and treatment methods and to highlight the responsibilities of the participants in the process, including their civil liability. Stress will also be placed on the problem of waste shipments, which is of particular significance given that such movements can have damaging effects on entire regions.
The second part will look at possible solutions, in the form of practical proposals for preventive polices, legislation and technical measures.
I. Overview of the situation
Human activity generates all sorts of waste products. Waste is defined as any residue of a production, transformation or consumption process and any substance, material, product or, more generally, physical item which has been abandoned or whose owner intends to abandon it.
Over recent decades, the volume of solid waste reflected a society's standard of living and life style and its increase was sometimes even considered to be an indicator of greater well-being.
Today, waste has become a major concern of environmental policy and of efforts to improve our quality of life, and is continuing to increase in quantity, harmfulness and complexity.
This ever growing burden is the consequence of two very different trends, whose effects are nevertheless cumulative:
—Th e production process, marketing methods and consumption patterns Th
The general increase in production linked to the growth in living standards has led to many more products with a shorter life-span and such fashion features or convenience aspects as non-reparability or single-use.
The problem is compounded by the greater use of packaging and of raw materials which are difficult to dispose of.
As a result, in the period between 1960 and 1990, the quantity of household waste increased, on average, by 60%.
This explains the lack of interest shown by producers and consumers in re-use or recycling.
—St ricter controls which are gradually extending the list of waste productsTh
There has been a trend towards more and more regulations concerned with depollution, the gradual restoration of black spots and uncontrolled tipping and the rehabilitation of industrial wastelands.
The increasing concern about the toxicity of certain forms of waste has led to more of them being treated. The quantity of industrial waste treated in public plants doubled between 1985 and 1990, and this in turn has produced a new category of waste: final waste.
Nevertheless, while increasing consumption is the underlying problem for waste management, it is not just at the level of the final consumer that its impact is felt, even if this is the stage where most of the population becomes aware of the issue. In practice, the majority of waste is generated by industrial and commercial activities. Thus, it has been estimated that household waste represents no more than 10% of the total, in contrast to what the ordinary consumer might think.
Current life styles suggest that the volume of household waste will continue to increase for at least another few years. Depending on the source, a growth of between 1% and 3% per annum is now forecast for this category of waste. In the industrial sector, in contrast, the trend appears to be level or even in decline, owing to the increasing use of regeneration, recovery and recycling processes. According to OECD figures, for example, in the former west Germany, there was less industrial waste in 1990 than in 1980. Similarly, restrictions on agricultural production should eventually reduce the amount of organic waste produced, though this trend may be counterbalanced by an increase in its toxicity.
At all events, each year, western Europe currently produces some 2,2 thousand million tonnes of household and industrial waste, which has to be efficiently and economically disposed of to avoid damaging public health or polluting the environment. Some types of waste may be incinerated while others are recoverable or recyclable, but there remains a growing quantity of waste whose regular disposal calls for a certain minimum of physical space.
This volume of waste inevitably raises the issue of its management and impact on the environment. More prosaically, the problem can be seen in terms of the relative economic costs of pollution and non-pollution. Experts are becoming increasingly convinced that it is more expensive to reduce pollution than to avoid it.
II. Geographical scope of the report
In the light of the Council of Europe's pan-European role, the Rapporteur has set out to assess the situation within a Greater European context, with a view to formulating proposals applicable on this scale. Two basic factors need to be taken into consideration.
Account must first be taken of progress in Community legislation on this topic. The Community approach, which aims to harmonise all the national legislation governing the classification, collection, recycling and movements of waste can serve as a bench mark or an example for other European countries, particularly those of central and eastern Europe. The report therefore pays close attention to existing and prospective Community regulations.
The second consideration is the transfrontier shipment of waste, which — like pollution — often does not recognise national borders. Here, account should be taken of international agreements governing the movement of waste between European countries and other continents. One example is the Basle Convention on the control of transboundary movements of hazardous wastes, adopted in May 1989 on the initiative of OECD and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), which applies to south-south and south-north, as well as west-east and east-west movements. Other measures have been adopted by the (in particular, the Decision on the control of transfrontier movements of wastes for recovery operations) or by the European Communities (the Lomé Convention between the EEC and the African, Caribbean and Pacific states).
First part: The different aspects of the problem
I. General strategy for waste management
The general strategy for waste management has the following order of priorities:
—wa ste prevention;—
—re -use of waste (including the sorting and recycling of usable materials);—
—wa ste disposal (reduction in the volume of waste and non-polluting discharges).1.
Preventing the production of waste is undoubtedly the number one priority. This prevention at source, that is the reduction of the volume of waste, involves action at all stages in the production, distribution and consumption processes — from a product's "cradle to its grave". It also involves incentives, such as financial or fiscal measures, to use recyclable materials, to reduce packaging and to subject waste to preliminary treatment, in order to reduce its volume and toxicity.
As well as the active commitment of the public authorities, prevention also requires the full participation of consumers, which in turn means systematically educating them to sort out waste for collection as and when specific forms of treatment become available and to consume in accordance with environmental principles; ecological labelling can make an important contribution in this context.
A number of steps have therefore been taken in the EEC to influence the production process from the very outset. Relevant measures include:
—th e ecological label, awarded to products with "ecological" constituents,—
—th e eco-audit: firms agreeing to undergo such an audit of their manufacturing processes are entitled to use the ecological labels.As
As well as innovations to persuade the public to consume ecological products, a number of dissuasive measures — such as taxes on certain products to cover the cost of disposing of them after use — have been introduced. Nevertheless, it must be recognised that the use of market-related measures to steer production and consumption towards sustainable development (the approach with which Community legislation is currently associated) may lead to distortions of competition, new barriers or an unjustified increase in the costs borne by consumers. This must therefore be taken into account in the GATT negotiations.
In connection with the use of stricter environmental legislation for preventive purposes, it should be noted that although certain firms have transferred their activities outside the EEC, others have made considerable efforts to make their production more environmentally friendly. Measures to inform companies and encourage them not simply to comply with legislation but to undertake their own initiatives in this field can play a key role in this regard.
The general term "re-use" covers recycling, composting, regeneration and energy recovery. Recovery and recycling in particular are not simply sources of raw materials but also permit considerable energy savings.
In the case of the recovery of raw materials, it is estimated that some 45% of the iron and steel produced in the world today comes from ferrous scrap.
The figures for other materials are equally striking: 35% of the world's copper production, 30% of zinc, 22% of aluminium, 30% of paper and board and 13% of textiles come from recovered raw materials.
The recovery and recycling industry, symbolised by the activities of the scrap metal merchant and the rag and bone man, has a structure which is the reverse of that of other industries, making it impossible to apply classical economic theory.
This processing industry, which creates new raw materials, also helps to achieve marked energy savings. The techniques it employs therefore make it a genuine source of raw materials.
However, with its large number of employees and the need for sophisticated and expensive equipment, the recovery and recycling industry suffers from very high operating costs and low profit margins. It is also very vulnerable to the laws of supply and demand and to world prices for raw materials.1
The recovery of fibres used in the paper and board industry is also a good illustration of this phenomenon. The cellulose fibre recovery industry is based on the collection of paper and cardboard from all sources. Those concerned sort the fibres according to a European classification comprising forty-six categories.
In practice, the decision taken by governments and local authorities on environmental grounds to encourage waste paper collections among private households has had serious consequences. Large quantities of poor quality fibre have been added to the available volume of fibres recovered, leading inevitably to a steep fall in prices and the suspension of collections.
Germany, for example, has organised massive waste paper collections, with no account being taken of economic realities or the structure of the industry. The situation became even worse when Germany started to supply the recovered and subsidised fibre free of charge to other EEC states, which in turn stopped purchasing locally recovered fibre.
If environmental problems are to be taken into account, the recovery industry must adapt to the new requirements of the ecological economy and become a key element in the recycling chain. This means moving beyond the free disposal service of the past towards a recycling process in which prices reflect real costs.
Given the techniques currently available and the number of outlets which the potential market would appear to offer, some 40% of existing waste could probably be recycled. This figure, which is below the ambitious objectives provided for in legislation, shows that recycling is not always the solution to the problem of urban refuse, where the voluntary participation of citizens is very often a further precondition for an effective waste management system.
In waste management, disposal is the last resort. The most frequently used methods are tipping, incineration, composting and physico-chemical treatment. In the case of tipping, the constant increase in the quantity of household waste is making it difficult to find available space to put it. Moreover, if not properly carried out, tipping can have serious consequences for the soil and underground water. These major risks have led to incineration being seen as a non-polluting substitute for tipping. However, any assessment of the impact of the two forms of disposal on the environment depends on the circumstances of each individual case.
If certain precautions are not taken, waste incineration can even cause air pollution; although certain toxic substances contained in household waste are destroyed by incineration, others remain intact and are concentrated in the cinders — including, for example, heavy metals which, even after waste incineration, pose a threat to the soil and water. Incineration plants are heavy energy users and at the end of their life, their filters constitute final waste.
II. Categories of waste and their treatment
Several categories of waste may be identified:
—in ert waste;—
—or dinary waste;—
—sp ecial waste;—
—fi nal waste.1.
1. Inert waste
This category covers waste which poses no risk of soil or water pollution and comprises essentially mineral residues of extractive activities (mines and quarries), certain forms of clinker resulting from the incineration of household waste and demolition rubble which contains no dangerous substances.
Most of this waste has the necessary characteristics for use as filling material in civil engineering or in restoring quarry sites once they have ceased to be worked.
This use of recycled material helps to preserve natural resources, such as sand, alluvial gravel and rock formations, and to restrict the opening or extension of extraction sites. In regions with few quarries or gravel pits, the recycling and re-use of demolition rubble is generally well established.
Its characteristics and lack of environmental impact allow inert waste to be stored on permeable sites.2
2. Ordinary waste
Ordinary waste mainly comprises household refuse, bulky items and some industrial waste.
2.1. Household waste and bulky items
In European countries, each individual produces approximately 1 kg of household refuse per day. Its characteristics vary according to season and style of life and are a good indicator of a country's standard of living.
By way of comparison, per capita daily production of household waste is twice as high in the United States but ten times lower in developing countries.
On average, the composition of household waste breaks down as follows:
—pa per and cardboard 30 %—
—pu trescible material 25 %—
—sm all items and others 15 %—
—gl ass 12 %—
—pl astics10 %—
—me tals 6 %—
—te xtiles 2 %Pa
Packaging (boxes, bags, bottles, cans, etc.) account for more than half the contents of dustbins.
Bulky waste includes all the items of household rubbish — old electrical appliances, mattresses, furniture — which are too large to be collected with the other refuse. However, refrigerators, freezers and computers appear to be increasingly subject to special treatment.
The recovery of household waste is dependent on whether it can be sorted out before it is treated and disposed of.
Sorting can take place at source by providing waste producers with several eco-dustbins or by selective door-to-door collections for different recoverable materials, such as glass, paper and cardboard boxes.
The selective collection of voluntarily transported rubbish requires containers to be placed at specially selected, regularly frequented locations, such as shops and car parks, and emptied at varying frequencies according to the speed with which they are filled.
Another voluntary approach involves transporting rubbish to waste collection centres and sorting it out and depositing it into large containers for different recoverable materials.
All these forms of selective collection are dependent on the active participation of local inhabitants, who are asked not to dispose of their rubbish indiscriminately, as hitherto.
Finally, sorting of household waste may be effected after the traditional collection stage. This involves the use of sorting units or centres with a significant manual input.
Whatever the form of sorting used, the recovery of reclaimed materials can only be developed if reliable and permanent outlets within the regeneration and recycling industries are available.
2.2. Ordinary industrial waste
Ordinary industrial waste resembles household waste, with the same components in varying proportions, and can be treated in the same way without being subjected to any additional requirements or conditions. It includes cardboard, wooden and metal packaging, plastic films and pallets, together with scrap and waste from production processes involving textiles, metal, wood, cardboard, plastics and so on.
2.2.1. Ferrous and non-ferrous scrap
The terms cast iron and steel scrap refer to manufacturing waste occurring between the liquid metal stage and the finished industrial product, and to iron and steel rejects.
Scrap metal is purchased by metal manufacturers. A very small proportion is employed by a varied professional clientele, including craftsmen, garage owners, farmers and so on. New ways are being developed of recovering rarer or semi-precious metals, such as titanium, cobalt, chrome, vanadium and molybdenum, contained in sludge, refining waste and alloys.
2.2.2. Paper and cardboard
Paper and cardboard are currently used for the packaging of household products and industrial goods. Paper is also used for graphic purposes, such as printing and written notes, and in industrial and special applications, such as toilet paper, photographic work and cigarette papers.
The establishment of a returnable deposit system or the compulsory return of packaging would help to discourage households and firms from simply disposing of such waste in their dustbins. Moreover, as well as economising on raw materials, the recycling of old paper and cardboard leads to water and energy savings.
However, the treatment of used paper requires the de-inking of the fibres and the ink sludge thereby created must be dealt with either by dumping or by physico-chemical treatment.
Glass has been the traditional packaging material for drinks, for a very long time using the deposit system but now increasingly on a non-returnable basis.
Recycled glass is either re-used as such after sorting and cleaning or transformed into cullet, or broken and sorted glass. In order to meet certain user requirements, collecting agencies may install recovery containers which distinguish between different colours of glass — transparent or white, green and brown.
2.2.4. Plastic materials
The wide range of materials involved means that the recovery of plastic items has been limited, particularly in the case of household refuse.
More than fifty types and qualities of plastic materials are currently used commercially for packaging consumer goods. Thermoplastics, such as polyethylene, PVC and polypropylene, can be recycled, following grinding, purification or granulation.
The recycling and regeneration of plastics permits the use of these secondary raw materials for manufacturing new products, characterised by the great thickness of material required to ensure their mechanical properties. Nevertheless, the commercialisation and use of these products requires a new market.
However, the dispersed nature of the potential sources of supply, the lack of collection networks and the difficulties of exploiting heterogeneous products remain major problems.
2.2.5. Rubber and tyres
This waste mainly comes from tyres.
There are three main ways in which rubber waste can be recovered:
—th e re-use of the constituent material;—
—en ergy uses which exploit the high calorific value of tyres;—
—th e application of road building technology, where regular beds of tyres are used to increase the stability of the natural soil.St
A high proportion of tyres escape the recycling networks described above. This situation is the result of the large number of sources of old tyres (garages, dealers, transporters, car scrap yards, retreaders or manufacturers), high collection costs because of their bulk and the still insufficient number of outlets offering the possibility of recovery.
There are two sources of textile waste: commercial undertakings which collect the textile industry's scraps and collections of old clothes, mainly organised by charities.
Collected items are put to very varied use and the commercial outlets experience problems associated with irregular supplies and the poor quality of material recovered from the general public.
2.2.7. Wood waste and by-products
Wood waste comprises a whole series of products and materials recovered at all stages of the production cycle from forestry through to the manufacture of products at the first and second processing stages.
For economic reasons, the waste arising from forestry operations is rarely recovered, despite the availability of appropriate equipment.
The waste from saw mills is used in various ways, for example:
—he ating in individual or communal boilers;—
—th e manufacture of certain paper pulps, depending on the species.2.
2.2.8. Organic waste from the agri-foodstuffs industry and stock farming
Whether they come from the agri-foodstuffs sector, agricultural processing or direct from farms, including co-operatives and groups of producers, there is a great range of organic by-products: whey, grape marc, low quality wine, leftovers from canned vegetables, withdrawn fruit and vegetables, meat industry waste, blood and bones, etc.
Being rich in fertilising agents and organic material, they represent good quality fertilisers and soil conditioners. Moreover, the composition of waste generated by the agri-foodstuffs industry either makes it suitable for use as an organic fertiliser (for direct use or after composting) or gives it a nutritive value which makes it usable as an animal feedstuff.
3. Special waste
Special waste products are those specific to particular industrial activities, though they may be associated with commerce, agriculture, wine production, hospitals and other care establishments, laboratories, educational establishments and private individuals. Such waste may contain toxic elements in varying quantities and thus poses an environmental risk if not correctly treated and stored and special precautions must therefore be taken with regard to collection, recovery, treatment and storage.
Special waste includes:
—sp ecial industrial waste;—
—ho spital waste;—
—to xic waste in widely dispersed quantities;—
—ra dioactive waste.3.
3.1. Special industrial waste
This is generated by productive activities in industrial plants or small workshops (chemical industry waste, surface treatment baths, waste from metal work, sludge from paper mills, moulding sand, discarded solvents or oil, etc.) or by waste treatment processes (residues from the purification of the smoke arising from the incineration of household waste, residues from the treatment of industrial waste, waste from crushing motor vehicles, etc.).
Special industrial waste can be recovered in certain cases but appropriate precautions must be taken.
The final residues of special industrial waste are stored in specially equipped storage centres on impermeable sites which form a barrier between the products concerned and the natural environment.
3.2. Hospital waste
Hospital waste comprises items which could constitute a bacteriological hazard for the environment. It includes anatomical waste, used dressings, equipment used in patient treatment or care, needles, knives and scissors which could cause injuries, blood transfusion bags and so on.
Hospitals must deal with the flow of hazardous waste separately from rubbish, such as domestic-type refuse and packaging, which can be treated as ordinary waste. Hazardous waste produced by private and general practitioners must be treated in the same way as contaminated waste generated by hospitals.
The recovery of hospital waste is not desirable, even though the development of decontamination techniques has made it possible to attain high levels of biological purity.
Such waste may be treated by:
—de contamination on the spot using a fixed or semi-fixed decontamination unit (microwave or steam processes, etc.), followed by removal and incineration in a household waste incineration plant;—
—co llection in special single-use containers and disposal in an incinerator specially equipped to deal with contaminated hospital waste;—
—co llection in special single-use containers and incineration in a treatment plant for special industrial waste (whose minimum treatment temperature is higher than that of units specifically designed to deal with hospital waste).3.
3.3. Toxic waste in widely dispersed quantities
Such waste includes solvents, acids, metallic salts, chemical products in laboratories, photographers' baths, paints, large and small batteries, sink clearers, previously used oil of domestic origin, insecticides and plant protection products used by firms, tradesmen, farmers, laboratories, teaching and research establishments and individuals.
Such waste is often badly managed:
—wh en it is not correctly identified or stored, it constitutes a hazard for the staff of the firm or laboratory, or to children exploring the interior of a garage or workshop;—
—wh en it is not correctly disposed of, it creates a hazard for the environment and the population at large. If it is poured down the drain, it can interfere with the functioning of sewage plants; if put out with the household refuse, it poses a threat to those employed in waste collection and treatment; if simply abandoned, it can pollute the water or soil or give off toxic gases when it comes into contact with air or heat.Th
The treatment processes for such toxic waste are similar to those for special waste, since the same products are involved. The main problem is that their widely dispersed nature makes it difficult to organise their collection and assembling so that they can be transported to treatment centres in sufficiently large quantities.
3.4. Radioactive waste
Excluding strictly military activities, the most important source of radioactive waste today is nuclear power stations. The single reactor of a 1 000 MW nuclear power station produces 200 to 500 cubic meters of radioactive waste each year. Approximately 90% of this waste has a very low radioactivity, with the remaining 10% being made up of very radioactive ion exchangers and metal parts.
The same 1 000 MW power station produces annually 30 to 35 tonnes of spent fuel elements which may be retreated to recover the uranium or plutonium or else stored for a long period.
Finally, there is waste which results from the final closure of nuclear installations. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the dismantling of a reactor produces a quantity of radioactive material equal to the total quantity of waste produced during the reactor's life.
It is essential to manage this waste by isolating it so as to avoid all radiological risk. It is claimed that low and medium-level radioactive waste can be transferred to specially prepared surface or underground storage sites or discharged into the sea. Highly active waste with a long life-span must be placed permanently in underground storage sites in geologically stable strata and remain under permanent supervision.
Any deep storage of this type must be preceded by an assessment of the waste's level of radioactivity, its length of life and the characteristics of the potential storage sites. The very special nature of such waste has for many years required governments to co-operate closely and accept certain standards — often through the offices of international organisations — with regard not only to exchanges of information and experience but also to the transport and management of radioactive waste.
The opinion groups concerned — ecologists, NGOs and local authorities — are increasingly unwilling to have decisions regarding radioactive waste imposed on them and instead seek exhaustive information on all the relevant issues. It is clear that a dialogue between these groups and the decision makers is the only way of re-establishing public confidence in nuclear power station safety and in proposals for managing their waste products.
4. Final waste
Final waste is defined as residues — whether or not from waste treatment — which cannot be treated under current technical or economic conditions, in particular by extracting their recoverable parts or reducing their potential for pollution or hazardous features.
After it has been rendered inert and stable, final waste is stored in a specially equipped, impermeable site with adequate safeguards to prevent contamination of the natural environment in the event of any mishap or accident during storage.
Certain types of such waste, which are compatible with other forms of waste and with the relevant atmospheric conditions, can be stored in deep sites. These take the form of salt mines designed to accommodate this waste, which can be subsequently removed when appropriate treatment or neutralisation processes have been developed and tested (see table in Appendix I).
III. The different participants in the process
1. Responsibilities with regard to waste management
1.1. Local authority responsibilities
Although the issue of responsibility for waste management is a sensitive one, it appears inevitable — and rightly so — that territorial authorities, whether regional or local, will retain responsibility for household and related waste in their areas. It is, of course, quite possible for local authorities to take responsibility for and manage all the aspects of this task, which means that they will require the necessary equipment, experience and qualified staff to produce optimum results.
This is a logical option, since it guarantees continuing openness and the ability to control all the relevant decisions.
In practice, the waste management industry is constantly evolving, which calls for a range of technical skills which are often very specialised. Under these circumstances, it would appear more logical to make use of outside technical staff, working in close collaboration with the responsible authorities. Nevertheless, elected members and local or regional officials in these authorities should have the necessary skills to monitor operations closely.
This means opting for a partnership, involving subcontracting arrangements in which responsibilities and obligations would be clearly defined in an appropriate legal instrument. Thus, no waste treatment unit, no matter how competent and experienced, would ever be given a blank cheque.
To this end, and in order to offer citizens adequate safeguards and ensure that local authorities are able to exercise their responsibilities:
a. the legal nature of outside operators' relationship with the authority must be clearly defined (for example, total delegation of the operation from its outset must be avoided). This type of contract with the local authority should therefore stipulate the following conditions: total transparency of operations, the right of the local authority to carry out an inspection at any time and the requirement to provide precise information on the nature of the waste, its treatment, the use of any end products and the envisaged method of marketing them;
b. the local authority personnel responsible for managing the process must have the necessary skills, training, resources and back-up organisation to carry out their task effectively. This will only be possible if such a policy at national level is matched by the necessary government support to the local authorities concerned.
To enable local authorities to cope with the increasing cost of waste management, consideration should be also given to a reform of the current structure of local authority taxes, based on the principle of taxing waste disposal to discourage individual households from producing waste. Under this approach, households would be charged for the actual amount of waste they produce, with management costs added on. Some initial steps have been taken, in the form of an anticipated disposal tax or the sale of dustbin bags by local authorities.
1.2. Other participants in the process under the polluter-pays principle
Governments are finding it more and more difficult to cope with the increasing quantities of waste being produced, because of the mounting costs of waste management. As a result, the polluter-pays principle, according to which the holder or producer of the waste must meet the associated costs, is gradually being given legal force. While it is not clear whether the definition of this principle laid down in the documents of the United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development has the status of a legal rule or simply a guiding principle, Community legislation, in particular the Single European Act and Directive 91/156 of 18 March 1991 on waste, has already translated it into detailed provisions. Thus, according to these Community regulations, the cost of waste disposal must be borne by:
—th e holder who has waste handled by a waste collector or by an undertaking authorised to dispose of waste, and/or—
—th e previous holders or the producer of the product from which the waste came.Th
The Directive also introduces the principle that expenditure linked to the environment must be included in the cost of services. Charges for waste treatment must reflect all the costs arising from its management.
In order to encourage the prevention of waste, the real cost of disposal must be passed on in its entirety, and not artificially reduced through subsidies.
In the case of businesses, conditions relating to the production, recovery and disposal of waste are likely to be imposed, with the manufacture and sale of products which generate waste subjected to statutory restrictions or even a total prohibition. Waste production will thus become an important element in the assessment of a commercial or industrial activity as part of the authorisation procedure for industrial establishments.
Commercial and industrial undertakings will thus be forced to give serious consideration to the feasibility of recovering or recycling its waste. Absolute priority should be given to preventing the production of waste and reducing its harmfulness, recycling should be encouraged as far as possible and environmental disposal is acceptable.
1.3. Various European examples
In France, Parliament recently adopted Act No. 92-646 of 13 July 1992 on waste disposal and plant classified for environmental protection purposes. The Act supplements and strengthens the 1975 Waste Act and the 1976 Classified Plant Act.
Section 1 of the Act establishes a new waste policy based on four main principles:
—th e prevention or reduction of waste production and its harmfulness, with particular reference to the manufacture and distribution of products;—
—th e organisation of the transport of waste, with restrictions on distance and volume;—
—th e recovery of waste through its re-use, recycling or any other process to secure re-usable materials or energy from waste;—
—in formation to the public.Th
The measures which must be introduced under this legislation concern both household and industrial waste:
—a clearly understood organisation for the whole of the waste disposal system;—
—th e establishment of waste disposal plans;—
—th e elimination of traditional tipping: from 1 July 1992, waste disposal storage installations will only be authorised to accept final waste, that is the "waste from waste";—
—op erators' liability for their sites: sufficient financial guarantees will be required before authorisation to establish a new storage site is granted;—
—ne w sources of finance for the waste policy.Lo
Local authorities will be required to establish a special charge for collecting ordinary waste from industry, tradesmen and commerce, based on the real cost of the service provided, which will no longer only be borne by households.
From 1 January 1993, there has been a tax on all storage installations for household or related waste, other than that produced internally. The rate of 20 French francs per tonne of waste received rises to 30 French francs in the case of waste originating outside the boundaries of the disposal plan. The amount raised — in the order of 350 million French francs per year — will be managed by the Agence de l'Environnement et de la Maîtrise de l'Energie (the national environmental and energy management agency). It will be used to meet at least 10% of the cost of developing new techniques for treating household and related waste and of equipment for this task, restoring storage installations and polluted land in cases where the operator is technically or financially unable to do so and, up to 2002, establishing new joint authority installations in specific local authorities.
Under a decree dated 1 April 1993, producers must make provision for the disposal of household waste, either by themselves or by a state-approved company. Two such companies currently exist — ECO-EMBALLAGE and ADELPHE. These companies enter into contract with local authorities to undertake waste recovery. Under these contracts, the local authorities establish recovery systems, subject to payment, and the companies purchase the waste thus recovered. The objective is to achieve a 90% level of recovery for packaging within the next fifteen years.
In Germany, the Länder — the competent national authorities — are responsible for the disposal of household and special waste, as well as for the identification and cleaning of contaminated sites.
On 12 June 1991, the Federal German Government adopted a regulation aimed at preventing the production of packaging waste. This requires producers and/or distributors to take back packaging for re-use or recycling, outside the waste disposal systems operated by the public authorities. To encourage consumers to return non-re-usable packaging, those used for drinks and cleaning products will carry a 0,50 Deutschmark deposit. However, provision is made for collection at sales points and the mandatory deposit system to be replaced by the establishment of special collection systems. To ensure that these systems are capable of achieving the regulation's objectives, the latter applies strict criteria to the collection and sorting of the quantities accepted and to the recycling of materials.
The Dual System is one example of a special collection system organised by commerce and industry. It provides for the local collection of packaging, financed by the participating undertakings. Packaging covered by the system will carry a green label indicating that the product is included in a special collection system and reminding consumers that after use the empty packaging must be returned via the collection system.
On 26 June 1990, in Belgium, the Flemish Government and seventeen organisations representing producers, users, distributors and recyclers of packaging signed a voluntary agreement on the preventive limitation and recycling of packaging waste. Under the agreement, those concerned in this field undertook to draw up and finance an action programme to reduce the volume of packaging waste, to provide for its collection and recycling and to gradually eliminate toxic heavy metals from packaging. Provision is also made for the separate collection of household packaging waste by local authorities; sorting, recycling and marketing of the recycled materials is the responsibility of the private sector interests concerned. In addition, the separate collection of consumer waste is partly financed from fees levied on waste treatment and disposal operations.
Austria has introduced regulations setting targets for the re-use and recycling of drinks containers: 90% for beer and mineral water, 80% for non-alcoholic drinks and 40% for fruit juices and other fruit-based drinks.
2. Community legislation
2.1. Current legislation
Community legislation on waste management has developed in the context of four environmental action programmes, which have given rise to a series of Community directives. The first was Directive 75/442/EEC of 25 July 1975 on waste, which established four general obligations. Member states undertook to:
—de signate competent national authorities with responsibility for waste management;—
—en sure that the competent authorities drew up waste disposal plans;—
—es tablish prior authorisation systems for waste treatment installations; —
—ap ply the polluter-pays principle.Th
This directive was amended by Directive 91/156 of 18 March 1991 on waste, which clarified some of the guiding principles governing environmentally sound waste management. It emphasises the need to prevent waste production and its harmful effects and to recover or dispose of waste in an environmentally appropriate manner, it requires competent authorities to draw up national waste management plans, which respect the principles of proximity and self-sufficiency, and it provides for strict controls over establishments and undertakings involved in waste disposal and recovery by making them subject to authorisation or registration.
The more specific area of hazardous waste is the subject of Council Directive 78/319/EEC of 31 March 1978, subsequently amended by Directive 91/689/EC of 12 December 1991. Under these directives, certain forms of waste (listed in their appendices) are considered to be hazardous because of their properties and composition.
The main objective is to ensure that the conditions under which they are collected, transported and treated are sufficiently safe and that these operations are only undertaken by approved organisations with proper authorisation.
However, radioactive, special agricultural, explosive and hospital waste are excluded from the scope of these directives.
2.2. Proposals for new Community directives
In addition to Community legislation on the transport of waste, which is considered in the next section, the Council is currently examining a number of proposals for directives. These include:
—Pr oposal for a directive on the tipping of wasteTh
The directive's main objective is the harmonisation of environmental and technical standards for waste tipping in all the member states to ensure a high level of environmental protection, particularly with regard to soil and underground water resources.
Over the last ten years or so, serious soil pollution problems — arising particularly from former tips — have been highlighted in a number of member states. One of the directive's objectives is therefore to prevent the appearance of polluted sites in the Community, thus helping to reduce long-term soil pollution which will become irreversible if not acted on in time.
One additional objective concerns the need to restrict tipping. In order to reduce the volume of waste tipped, waste production must be discouraged and more emphasis placed on recycling. Waste which does require disposal should undergo appropriate treatment to reduce to a maximum its potential harmfulness.
On the economic side, charges for waste disposal by tipping must, at the very least, take the total costs associated with the fitting out, operation and decommissioning of the site fully into account. If the real cost of tipping is high, this should act as a brake on unnecessary disposal and encourage the search for more appropriate solutions in the fields of prevention and recycling.
—Pr oposal for a directive on the incineration of hazardous waste 3
This proposal involves a more integrated approach to environmental protection covering not only air pollution but also the protection of the soil and surface and underground water, in the light of existing Community legislation in these areas. To that end, the Commission's proposal stipulates a number of conditions which each new plant must satisfy before the competent authorities can issue a permit. Extremely strict conditions are fixed for the way emissions must be measured. Approved plants must satisfy the directive's provisions within three years. If a plant is not adapted, it must cease operations within a maximum of five years.
The proposal also provides for states to exchange information and experience on the incineration of hazardous waste.
—Pr oposal for a Council directive on packaging and packaging wasteTh
The main objective of this directive is to reduce the overall impact of packaging and packaging waste on the environment, having regard to qualitative as well as quantitative aspects and to its chemical composition.
Certain member states have already taken steps to deal with this problem — in particular Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands, which have been the pace setters as far as packaging waste management is concerned. However, the Commission believes that the lack of a harmonised Community framework could distort competition and hinder the free movement of goods within the Single Market. Moreover, national differences in this area would inevitably cause disparities in levels of environmental protection while previous sectoral and unilateral approaches have been shown to be inadequate.
To avoid such a situation, the Commission is proposing a series of harmonised measures. In accordance with the subsidiarity principle, states would be free to choose their own legal arrangements and collection systems for used packaging, draw up their own packaging management plans and identify the intermediate steps towards achieving, within ten years, the Commission's proposed objectives of:
a. the recovery (via recycling, composting, regeneration, energy recovery, etc.) of 90% of the waste from all forms of packaging;
b. the recycling (including composting and regeneration) of 60% of all the raw materials of which this waste is composed.
The proposal also provides for information — most notably, a uniform labelling system specifying whether packaging is re-usable or recoverable — aimed at: (a) consumers, to indicate what they must do with the packaging they have used, and (b) packaging waste collectors, to inform them of the nature of the materials used, thereby facilitating the collection, sorting and recycling activities.
Finally, the proposed directive identifies various essential requirements regarding the nature and composition of re-usable and recoverable packaging, to which national legislation on the production and sale of packaging and packaging waste management must conform.
IV. Shipments and transport of waste
Shipments of household waste across frontiers may be legal and illegal. The solution to the latter involves the application of the polluter-pays principle and strict "green policing", to ensure that non-respect for regulations, directives and agreements is avoided or, at least, sanctioned by means of effective controls.
European and international legislation on waste focused initially on the movement of hazardous waste. The Seveso affair in Europe and the sad cases of entire freighters depositing tons of hazardous waste in developing countries persuaded European and international organisations to speed up their efforts in this field. Thus, the EEC adopted the so-called SEVESO directive on the transfrontier movement of hazardous waste while, for its part, OECD brought forward its own work on transboundary movements of hazardous wastes, culminating in the March 1989 Basle Convention.
Following the opening of the frontiers between east and west, there is a danger that, with their less strict environmental regulations and their urgent need for convertible currency, the countries of central and eastern Europe will become a new destination for waste from the rest of the continent. In these circumstances, your rapporteur welcomes the recent adoption of the EEC Regulation on the control waste shipments, while drawing attention to the need to promote further action in this field, in particular the early ratification of the Basle Convention.
1. Community legislation
1.1. Directives on the transfrontier transport of hazardous waste
In 1984, the European Community's Council of Ministers adopted Directive EEC/84/631 on the supervision and control within the European Community of the transfrontier shipment of hazardous waste. The directive was amended by Directive EEC/86/279, which extended its scope to exports of waste outside the EEC. The directive established a prior authorisation system with a consignment note and the requirement for the holder and the consignee to enter into a waste disposal contract. It also required the written consent of importing countries before the transfrontier shipment of hazardous waste could begin.
1.2. Regulation on the supervision and control of shipments of waste within, into and out of the European Community
The directives referred to above regulate transfrontier shipments of hazardous waste. Today's challenge is above all that of how to deal with "ordinary" — household and hospital — waste which is subject to regular, large-scale shipments, which are unremarkable but still pose a substantial potential threat.
This is the background to Council Regulation (EEC) No. 259/93 of 1 February 1993 on the supervision and control of shipments of waste within, into and out of the European Community, which followed the closure of the French frontier to imports of waste in summer 1992, after intense media pressure. The Council has thus said a clear "no to waste tourism" — from spring 1994, when the regulation comes into force, waste will no longer be considered to be an ordinary good which can move freely within the Single Market.
The Commission's proposal is based on current Community provisions governing shipments of waste, while at the same time incorporating those of the Basle Convention on the control of transboundary movements of hazardous wastes and Article 39 of the Lomé Convention. The regulation also incorporates into Community legislation, the OECD decision establishing a control system for shipments which varies according to the nature of the waste. The recognition, by the Twelve, of green, amber and red lists of wastes, based on their harmfulness, is one way of ensuring that waste classified as green — that is recyclable — is not subject to a bureaucratic control procedure.
The main elements of the regulation are:
Shipments of waste within member states for:
a. disposal — notification system with a consignment note, containing details of the cargo's producer and consignee, the weight of the load and the nature of the shipment, and a requirement for the holder to enter into a contract with the consignee;
b. recovery — same provisions as in a., together with the right, in specific cases, to carry out checks on certain "green" wastes, although, in principle, this type of waste is not covered by the regulation.
Shipments of waste within member states. National authorities are required to establish appropriate and compatible arrangements.
Exports of waste:
a. for disposal — totally prohibited, other than exports to EFTA countries;
b. for recovery — total prohibition other than to countries in the OECD area which are parties to the Basle Convention and with which, following prior notification to the Commission, member states or the European Community have concluded bilateral or multilateral agreements or arrangements;
c. to the African, Caribbean and Pacific states (ACP) — total prohibition, other than for waste originating in this region which has been processed in the European Community;
d. for recycling ("green") in non-OECD countries — written confirmation of the country of destination.
Imports of waste for:
a. disposal — total prohibition with exemptions for waste from EFTA countries and other countries which are also parties to the Basle Convention or with which the Community or member states have, subject to certain conditions, concluded agreements;
b. recovery — total prohibition other than for OECD countries and other countries, whether or not parties to the Basle Convention, with whom agreements have been concluded;
c. disposal or recovery in transit through the European Community — system of prior authorisation by the authorities of transit, but more flexible in the case of waste for recovery originating from or in transit to an OECD country.
Illegal traffic — measures requiring member states to prohibit and, where appropriate, sanction such traffic.
1.3. The Lomé Convention
Article 39 of the ACP-EEC (African, Caribbean and Pacific states — European Economic Community) Convention of 15 December 1989 — the so-called Lomé Convention — prohibits the export of hazardous waste and radioactive waste to the ACP countries.
2. International agreements
2.1. Basle Convention
OECD had been undertaking work since 1985 to produce an agreement on an international system for the control of transboundary movements of hazardous wastes.
Following a decision in 1987 by the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), a working party was established to draw up a general convention on the control of transboundary movements of hazardous wastes and their disposal.
This was duly signed by thirty-four countries and the EEC in March 1989 in Basle. One the convention's advantages is that it provides an international definition of what constitutes hazardous waste, thus avoiding the problems caused by multiple definitions. It also sets out internationally acknowledged rules on the environmental management of waste, together with detailed regulations on waste movements.
The convention contains the following provisions:
a. Any state which is a party to the convention is entitled to prohibit the import and/or export of hazardous waste.
b. In countries which do not intend to impose a total prohibition on waste shipments, prior notice of any export must be given to the countries of export, import and transit (the prior notification principle).
c. Importing countries and, in the absence of any declaration to the contrary, countries of transit, must give their written consent before any transfrontier movement of hazardous waste can commence.
d. In addition, the exporting country's authorities must prohibit exports if they are not convinced that the importing country has appropriate facilities for the environmentally sound treatment of the waste.
e. Exports to or imports from non-parties to the convention are not permitted. The only exceptions are when at least equally strict agreements are reached with third countries.
f. The convention provides for a series of measures to deal with illegal exports.
g. The convention envisages further negotiations to deal with problems of liability and damage which may result from transfrontier movements of hazardous waste.
Apart from offering effective environmental and health protection, the convention should also lead to assistance to developing countries to help them manage their hazardous waste and greater international solidarity over a problem which is the consequence of industrial development in all our countries.
Unfortunately, the convention can only be fully effective if the maximum number of countries — particularly, exporting countries — accede to it. It should be noted, therefore, that many of the Council of Europe's member states have not ratified the convention.
Nevertheless, the EEC's Environment Council has just approved a decision authorising ratification of the Basle Convention by 6 February 1994 at the latest.
2.2. Other international instruments
Apart from drawing up green, amber and red lists of wastes, according to their harmfulness, one of OECD's most recent initiatives has been its Council's adoption, in March 1992, of an important decision concerning the control of transfrontier movements of wastes destined for recovery operations.
Pursuant to this decision, work has continued on drawing up practical implementing measures, particularly the drafting of forms for notifying and monitoring waste, the preparation of an operational manual and the collection and dissemination of the required basic information. Machinery has been established to update, and where necessary amend, the lists of wastes covered by the decision.
Specialised forms of transport are usually employed, with the transport operation itself governed by international conventions such as:
—th e European agreement concerning the international carriage of dangerous goods by road (ADNR — 1957);—
—th e convention concerning international carriage by rail (1985);—
—th e International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (IMDG);—
—th e Chicago Convention on international civil aviation (1944), Appendix 18 of which deals with the transport of dangerous goods by air;—
—th e International Convention for the prevention of pollution from ships (MARPOL 1973-78);—
—th e regulation for the carriage of dangerous substances on the Rhine (1970).In
In addition, an African convention, based on the Basle Convention, has been drawn up by the Organisation of African Unity. The Bamako Convention, adopted in Bamako (Mali) on 30 January 1991, prohibits the importation of hazardous wastes into Africa and controls their transfrontier movements within the continent.
3. The specific case of frontier regions (example France — Germany)
In August 1992, the French authorities intercepted several cargoes of illegal hospital waste from Germany which contravened the Hospital Waste Act of 15 July 1975 and a decree dated 23 March 1990. It was found that hospital waste had been deliberately concealed by being passed off as ordinary household refuse and that, in the absence of inspection facilities, this had been going on for some time. France therefore considered it necessary to adopt emergency measures, in the form of a decree dated 18 August 1992 which prohibited the import of waste into France, other than authorised imports of household waste for a form of disposal other than tipping. The relevant permits issued by the French customs required the approval of the Ministry of the Environment and the regional prefect concerned.
Nevertheless, given the temporary nature of this measure, particularly in view of the abolition of frontier controls in the EEC on 1 January 1993, the two parties agreed to take steps to expedite the adoption of the relevant European regulations. Following intense media speculation, EEC Regulation No. 259/93 (see above) was finally published on 17 February 1993.
It is clearly tempting for a country bordering on another whose legislation is less strict to export its waste, particularly when the classification system makes it possible to pass off another form of waste, such as contaminated hospital waste which could give rise to uncontrolled discharges, as household waste.
This is why the Rapporteur considers it appropriate to examine the particular case of the regions on the Franco-German frontier in more detail and to highlight the extent of the problems of frontier co-operation.
Over the period preceding 18 August 1992; out of 840 000 tonnes per year imported from Germany, 600 000 remained in Lorraine — that is nearby — in a class 2 tip, 150 000 tonnes, compared with 60 000 authorised, were deposited in St Aubin (Aube) in a class 2 tip and 90 000 tonnes were divided between Alsace, the Paris region (Vemars tip) and as far away as Tarn et Garonne (Montech tip).
These significant flows highlight the difficulty of applying effective controls. Moreover, when a considerable tonnage is simply in transit, it is hard to keep check of its final destination.
These waste shipments, including those to destinations far from the frontier, can be explained by the much lower costs of tipping in France than in Germany (120 to 150 French francs compared with 650 French francs), which even makes long-distance transportation economically viable.
In response, the French and German Governments have initiated an examination of transfrontier co-operation based on the principles of proximity, reciprocity and priority for local demand. Franco-German and Franco-Luxembourg working parties have been instructed to draw up arrangements and criteria for transfrontier co-operation on the incineration and recovery of household waste.
The work involves the following:
—id entifying existing and planned installations;—
—dr awing up lists of household and associated waste capable of being recovered;—
—id entifying existing and future recovery facilities;—
—ex changing information on waste treatment techniques and experimental or innovatory projects leading to improved environmental protection.Th
These topics must in fact be central to any work on European transfrontier co-operation. Such co-operation can help in the identification of solutions to the special problems of two neighbouring regions divided by a frontier. At a time when it is becoming increasingly necessary to treat environmental problems on a global scale, since air, water, the ozone and the seas and oceans know no frontiers, the management of issues in frontier regions must move in the same direction. This applies equally to national policies and decisions, since there is often a tendency to favour regions at the heart of a country at the expense of those on the periphery.
This means encouraging transfrontier co-operation and giving the relevant authorities adequate resources to play their part in the overall development of regions which are often at a disadvantage compared with other European regions.
This is why the Additional Protocol to the Council of Europe's Outline Convention on transfrontier co-operation is so important. The draft protocol, approved by the Steering Committee on Local and Regional Authorities and submitted to the Committee of Ministers, should resolve certain legal problems relating to transfrontier co-operation, particularly regarding recognition of the organs concerned and inter-regional agreements.
V. Civil liability for damage
Prevention is a priority in the environmental protection field and is already the subject of considerable international co-operation. However, the problems raised by civil liability for damage have not, hitherto, aroused much international attention, other than in a few specific cases such as nuclear energy and the transport of goods. Attention should therefore be drawn to two measures which set out to remedy these deficiencies.
1. Convention on civil liability for damage resulting from activities dangerous to the environment
Following discussions at the 15th Conference of European Ministers of Justice in Oslo in 1986, the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers appointed a committee of experts to propose measures for compensating victims of damage caused to the environment. A draft convention was drawn up between 1987 and 1992. It has now been submitted to the Committee of Ministers, which approved it and decided to open it for signature by the Council's member states at the informal meeting of Ministers of Justice in Lugano on 21 June 1993.
The convention is the first international legal instrument to establish the general principle of civil liability for damage to the environment, other than that resulting from the transport of dangerous products and nuclear accidents, which are covered by other international conventions. The new convention, which is also open to accession by the European Community and non-member states of the Council of Europe, sets out to meet the needs of both environmental protection and industry. It is based on the key principle of the operator's strict liability, that is liability, regardless of fault, arising from a specific risk posed by a dangerous activity carried out in a professional capacity and designed to provide appropriate compensation for damage resulting from activities dangerous to the environment. It provides for compensation not only for damage in connection with impairment of the environment but also for damage to persons and property, as well as for the cost of measures taken to prevent damage.
Under the convention, the person made liable is the person who controls the dangerous activity at the time when the incident takes place or, in a particular case, at the time when the damage becomes known. Under "dangerous activities", the convention includes:
—th ose which produce or use dangerous substances (a list of these substances — albeit not exhaustive — has been drawn up),—
—th ose which involve the use of genetically modified organisms or micro-organisms, —
—wa ste treatment and disposal.Th
The issue of waste is therefore dealt with in the provisions concerned with the definition of dangerous activities rather than of dangerous substances. This reflects the fact that waste generally contains a range of substances which may be difficult to identify and which may not all be considered dangerous in themselves. Moreover, even though there are always risks attached to the accumulation of waste, it was considered necessary to distinguish between installations and sites treating waste and sites for the permanent deposit of waste, having regard to the specific character of the latter.
In fact, waste deposit is a specific category as it concerns the permanent storage of waste (whether or not solid), which will not be recycled, in open sites or underground, indefinitely or at least for a long period. The word installation has not been used for this case in order to make a clearer distinction between this type of activity and operations to treat waste carried out in an installation or on a site.
Installations and sites for the incineration, treatment, handling or recycling of waste are set out in a non-exhaustive list. In the case of sites for the permanent deposit of waste, account has been taken of the fact that it may be difficult to determine exactly when an incident arises. A special regime of liability has therefore been provided for these sites. This regime is based on the time when the damage becomes known.
To help victims to prove that they have suffered damage, the convention includes a number of provisions to facilitate access to information held by public authorities and operators and it also gives associations or foundations the opportunity to take legal action to secure the cessation of an unlawful activity, the application of preventive measures or the reinstatement of the damaged environment.
This convention is undoubtedly a valuable legal instrument which will permit the creation of a uniform European system of civil liability for damage caused to the environment. The Rapporteur therefore wishes to stress the need for its early ratification by the countries of Europe and for a detailed information and publicity programme aimed at all those affected by its application.
2. Proposal for a Council directive on civil liability for damage or injury to the environment caused by waste
This proposed directive, adopted by the EEC Commission on 2 August 1989, arises from:
—Di rective EEC/84/631 on the transfrontier transport of hazardous waste, which requires the Council to draw up a system of civil liability,—
—th e mandate which the Council gave the Commission following the Sandoz accident (resolution of 24 November 1986).Th
The proposal provides for strict liability, independent of any fault on the part of the person responsible (the producer), and is based on the preventive action and polluter-pays principles established in the Single European Act. By attributing risks to the producer, the proposals will make clean technologies and other ways of minimising waste generation more attractive. At the same time, the directive will not in any way reduce the producer's right to seek remedies against the waste holder or other third parties if they are responsible for the damage caused. If, on the other hand, the producer cannot be traced, the proposal provides for the holder to be held liable; similarly, when waste has been lawfully transferred to a licensed disposal installation, it is the latter which will be deemed liable.
With regard to its scope, the directive will apply to all waste generated in the course of an occupational activity, other than nuclear waste and waste and pollution covered by the Brussels Conventions of 29 November 1969 and 18 December 1971 on oil damage. This excludes household waste and other products transformed into waste after consumer use, such as solvents, paint and batteries. In such cases, the link with the product's producer becomes somewhat tenuous while the waste producer (that is the consumer) will often only have a very limited knowledge of the risks posed by the waste. In any case, it will only rarely be possible to trace the latter. The directive's twin objectives are to improve the position of the victim and to harmonise competitive conditions. This harmonisation is necessary because the very existence of disparities in national legislation will lead to conditions of unequal competition between member states and also to artificial flows of investment and waste towards countries with the least binding requirements for operators and the most disadvantageous conditions for victims.
The proposal has not so far emerged in its final version and is still being considered by the Community institutions.
Second part: Proposed solutions
The analysis of the different aspects of the problem in the first part of the report has highlighted the key principles of waste management within the context of sustainable development and the manner and extent of their application. The main principles are:
—a waste management strategy based on the following order of priorities: prevention — recovery — disposal;—
—th e absolute need to reduce waste at source;—
—th e major importance of training and raising public awareness;—
—th e application of the polluter-pays principle;—
—th e application of the proximity principle;—
—a balance between incentives and regulation;—
—th e preparation of waste management plans;—
—th e application of the strict liability (that is no fault) principle to the person responsible for damage caused by waste (usually the producer);—
—th e need to harmonise national legislation at the European level;—
—th e leading role of local authorities among those involved in the process;—
—th e importance of transfrontier co-operation;—
—th e need for specific regulations applicable to special waste;—
—st rict control of transfrontier shipments of waste;—
—ac tive international co-operation in this field.Th
The second part of this report contains a number of practical proposals in the following areas:
—re ducing waste at source;—
—tr aining and raising public awareness;—
—th e search for more effective waste recycling and disposal techniques.I.
I. Policies to reduce waste movements at source
There are several available methods of investigating and reducing the production of waste at source.
1. The eco-audit
The eco-audit, or environmental appraisal, applies to craft or industrial production units. The aim is to improve the level of knowledge about an activity's environmental impact.
This is a non-mandatory procedure and does not set out to impose national or Community standards on installations.
The investigations include a waste management element. Studies normally involve three phases:
1. description of the existing waste management arrangements in the undertaking;
2. technical and financial examination of alternative methods of reducing the volume and residual harmfulness of waste;
3. presentation of and justification for the solutions identified.
2. Clean technologies
The normal approach to pollution adopted by manufacturers is to add external depolluting equipment to their plant. Such purification treatment represents an additional unproductive investment with high operating costs (15% to 20% of the investment), which will increase as the plant becomes older.
An alternative solution is to recognise that pollution is not inevitable and to seek internal methods of avoiding it.
The quantity and harmfulness of waste may be reduced at the production stage by changing the methods used to manufacture industrial and consumer goods.
Clean technologies produce fewer gas, liquid and solid effluents, which would otherwise need to be purified, thus generating more waste.
There are three generally recognised levels of effectiveness:
—th e most basic simply requires the monitoring of the manufacturing process, particularly the points where pollution occurs, and the effective management of raw materials and fluids;—
—th e second level involves modifications to the manufacturing process, with waste being recycled or reintroduced into the production cycle, or the application of separation techniques;—
—at the most advanced level, the elimination of, or a major reduction in, pollution is built in to a product at the design stage.Cl
Clean technology is important for two reasons. Firstly, from an environmental point of view, it always results in less, or even no, pollution. Moreover, since the process is more easily controlled, the risk of accident or breakdown is reduced. When breakdowns do occur, production line repairs can be carried out immediately, which is not always the case with a depollution plant. Secondly, from an economic point of view, clean technologies lead to savings in energy and raw materials, and thus to a shorter pay-back period for the investment. Similarly, with a new, less polluting, process, the investment is productive and the operating costs linked to depollution are an integral part of the production process.
Clean technologies stimulate technological innovation and help to improve productivity and product quality, leading to greater competitiveness in internal and external markets.
Ecoproducts provide an alternative to traditional product design and consumer behaviour.
They satisfy two objectives:
—pr otecting the environment,—
—ma intaining economic competitiveness by offering ecological quality.Ec
Ecoproducts are increasingly so labelled. Following practice in individual countries such as Germany, Canada, Japan and France, a European label has just been introduced in a Community regulation adopted in March 1992.
The label, which calls for a commitment from the economic interests concerned, is based on a range of environmental criteria which apply to the whole product life-cycle, from extraction of the raw materials, through production, distribution and use or consumption, to what happens after use.
It concerns the product and its packaging and takes account of the product's suitability for use.
The label is issued for a fixed period, to take account of changing environmental techniques and knowledge.
4. Industrial good conduct
The labelling of ecoproducts only affects specific families of industrial products, characterised by the potential harmfulness of their constituents and the difficulties of disposing of them. However, measures to reduce the flow of waste at source must now extend to manufacturers whose products are not labelled.
It will only be possible to control the quantity of waste produced when manufacturers and distributors take full account of what will happen to a product after use at the design stage. Motor manufacturers, for example, are examining ideas for recyclable or easily dismountable cars, to encourage the regeneration of the raw materials. It should be noted that motor car waste (grinding residues, tyres, used oil, batteries, etc.) makes up some 10% of the annual quantity of household waste.
A number of firms have decided to keep track of their products from the time of sale until they are returned, to improve environmental protection and reduce the burden on their customers. In France, for example, the Agence de l'Environnement et de la Maîtrise de l'Energie (ADEME — the national environmental and energy management agency) issues a RETOUR (return) label to products on the basis of these two criteria, thus improving their marketability. The label has already been awarded to some ten products, including dry cleaning solvents, garage paint dilatants, laser printer cartridges and portable tool batteries. The aim of the initiative is to encourage suppliers to take back products, in anticipation of new national and Community statutory requirements.
Other initiatives in this area could include extending guarantees on the quality and life of products and a requirement for firms of a certain size to appoint a waste management officer.
The sorting and recovery of packaging waste is becoming increasingly necessary as European industry faces up to packaging recycling requirements. Now that firms' liability for recovering packaging after use has been established, national and Community regulations are requiring manufacturers, importers and processors of household products either to undertake the recovery themselves or to delegate the task to an approved organisation, such as Dual System Deutschland — CSD or Eco-Emballages.
For local authorities, public tendering arrangements are one means of communicating their concerns and setting an example. Certain local authority associations have decided to incorporate their policy of reducing waste at source into their tender specifications by requiring the firms they employ to submit proposals for reducing the waste they generate.
II. Training and greater awareness
1. Raising public awareness
Efforts in these areas must be aimed at industrialists, waste disposal specialists, voluntary organisations and individuals, since it is essential to establish good communications based on openness and an awareness of existing and future policies.
At the individual level, all communication activities must be used as an opportunity to raise consumer awareness of the need for everyone to contribute to reducing waste at source.
A number of simple examples may be cited:
—pu rchasing just the quantity required, to avoid wasting any surplus;—
—gi ving preference to re-usable packaging over single use products, to limit packaging waste;—
—us ing labelled eco-products or environmentally compatible products (for which there are no labels);—
—co nsuming "clean" products and ensuring that equipment is properly maintained to extend its working life;—
—ke eping regularly up-to-date with new developments in our environmental knowledge.2.
2. Training elected decision makers and specialists
As was noted in the section on local authority responsibilities, it is at the local level that the daily flow of waste is managed. Appropriate training for elected members and specialists is essential, since it is they who are required to:
—ap ply the relevant legislation and regulations,—
—ma ke decisions on the organisation of services, management and the strategies to be adopted (in the case of elected representatives) or apply specialist technical knowledge.El
Elected members do not need to be experts on all aspects of waste management but they should have the necessary data to make fully informed decisions and be capable of discussing matters with technical personnel. Special information and training programmes are therefore required.
A framework for specialist training already exists in the form of the Council of Europe's European network of training centres for local and regional authority staff, created in 1989 at the initiative of the Standing Conference of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe.
Such a centre could also be set up for training elected members.
Given their shortage of qualified personnel in this field, a special training programme might be established for the countries of central and eastern Europe.
III. The search for more effective waste recycling and disposal techniques
1. Recycling techniques
The recycling of consumer products and the recovery of secondary raw materials and energy are elements of any waste management system. They can be significantly developed by:
—ex tending selective sorting systems and collections of recoverable material. The recycling of products is assisted quantitatively and qualitatively by the addition of homogeneous raw materials from which impurities have been extracted;—
—cr eating new raw material recovery and recycling systems based on technically reliable outlets. The conversion of waste into energy is generally considered to be a form of recovery; it is particularly appropriate for non-toxic waste with a high net calorific value, such as used tyres which cannot be retreaded. Further, it is also important to encourage recuperation of the heat generated in the process of industrial manufacturing;—
—in creasing the number of waste sorting centres for both recoverable household waste collected free of charge and associated waste, such as ordinary industrial waste and industrial packaging, for which a charge is made;—
—ma king it mandatory to include a certain minimum of recovered raw material in the manufacture of new mass consumption products, such as dustbin bags or newspaper pulp;—
—re stricting, or even prohibiting, the marketing of new products whose recycling or recovery system has not been properly developed. This proposal could, however, be interpreted as a possible barrier to the free movement of goods within the EEC;—
—cr eating distinctive marking and labelling for products for sale, including a collection, recovery or disposal code for recovery and recycling undertakings. This would also affect the product's packaging. The proposal is quite distinct from the "recyclable" logo which gives insufficient information to ensure that the product or packaging finds its way into the appropriate recovery system.Ne
Nevertheless, in view of the fact that the recycling industry is very sensitive to the law of supply and demand and to world raw material prices, it should be borne in mind that:
—ma terial recycling generates new waste, for which there must be appropriate incineration, composting and storage facilities;—
—ce rtain recycled products, particularly in mixed plastic materials, have no existing market outlets but require new markets for which there is still no consumer demand.2.
2. Disposal techniques
The concept of tipping must change. In the medium term, bulk products, such as household waste, must no longer be accepted for tipping and the storage of special waste must be adapted to new techniques.
The application of these new criteria will make it necessary to:
—us e the best available techniques to treat household waste,—
—re duce the volume of special waste because of the cost of its storage.Ev
Eventually, this form of disposal should only be used for final waste and a new system could be adopted with two levels of separation of the waste from the natural environment: an active barrier made up of one or more high density polyethylene membranes and a passive barrier formed by the natural soil.
At all events, any proposals to create a disposal site must be accompanied by an open and detailed public relations campaign followed by the establishment of consultation and information procedures, which should be in place before and remain in place after the site's construction.
Further technical progress is possible in this area. It is therefore necessary, not only to respect strict emission standards but also to use the most recently developed techniques, in order to prevent pollution. Permits should only be issued to incineration plants if all appropriate steps to prevent environmental pollution have been taken and the corresponding regulations are strictly enforced.
Full information to the public is also very important. Complete openness is necessary to allay public concerns about waste incineration and make this option acceptable when it is the most appropriate available. This should also facilitate the optimal location of incineration plants, in terms of their distance from waste production, collection and sorting centres (thus reducing waste movements as far as possible) and their environmental impact.
Individual composting should be encouraged in rural and suburban residential areas, where its use could significantly reduce the volume of household waste. Fermentable waste represents some 25% in weight of the contents of an average dustbin.
The establishment of large scale composting units must reflect economic realities regarding compost's marketability. Certain agricultural sectors, particularly wine producers, remain wedded to the use of chemical fertilisers.
2.4. Physico-chemical treatment
This form of treatment is used for special industrial waste, whose harmfulness can be reduced by the application of processes based on the fundamental laws of chemistry.
New techniques such as the induction screw and ultrafiltration are available to supplement the traditional approach using the filter press.
IV. Other proposals
Measures to assist firms and support recycled products
When a firm wishes to invest in plant, clean technology or purification systems designed to reduce or eliminate an activity's environmental impact below normal thresholds, its commitment should be supported. Financial assistance for securing advice and investment in the environmental field should therefore be developed.
Consideration should also be given to modifying the basis for assessing value added tax (VAT) on recycled products to make them more competitive.
The creation of a new environmental tax
This tax would be levied at a product's point of sale and would cover the cost of treating the waste resulting from its use. It could be used to finance a waste management fund to support waste collection, recycling, recovery and regeneration networks.
Another tax might be considered, to be levied on the basis of the quantity of "new" raw materials used in the manufacture of a product which could have been replaced by recycled materials.
Member states have made undoubted progress in waste management. Nevertheless, while there is usually a genuine awareness of this crucial environmental problem, practical decisions have not always been commensurate with the political declarations made. It is therefore essential for governments to take resolute steps to implement practical policies at both national and international levels.
Your Rapporteur is convinced that existing consumption patterns, particularly in the industrialised countries, are helping to increase the range and quantity of waste. If the volume of waste is to be reduced, therefore, we must first recognise that it is consumer behaviour which lies at the heart of the problem. The most effective methods of dealing with this scourge are not ones which require citizens to sort out their rubbish into several different dustbins. The real challenge is to persuade them to buy less and to buy differently. Even though this is much more difficult to achieve, it is undoubtedly the surest way of securing a cleaner world.
Waste for disposal
Waste for recovery
Transfer of waste between member states
— notification system with consignment note and compulsory contract between the holder and the consignee
— in order to implement the principles of proximity, priority for recovery and self-sufficiency at Community and national levels, member states may take measures in accordance with the treaty to prohibit generally or partially or to object systematically to shipments of waste, other than in the case of hazardous waste produced in small quantities in the country of dispatch (co-operation between the countries of dispatch and destination to resolve the issue bilaterally)
— the Council and the Commission consider that measures to prohibit generally or objections on a case by case basis must be applied in a spirit of fair co-operation
— notification system with consignment note and compulsory contract between the holder and the consignee
— the competent authorities of destination and dispatch may, under certain circumstances, raise reasoned objections to the planned shipment
— certain "green" waste products, even though in principle they are not covered by the regulation, will be subject to controls in specific cases
— the transfer of "green" waste must, if appropriate, be accompanied by certain information to permit its tracking
Imports of waste from third party states
— prohibition on all imports into the Community other than from EFTA countries which are parties to the Basle Convention and other countries which are parties to the Convention or with which the Community or member states have, subject to certain conditions, concluded bilateral or multilateral agreements or arrangements
— prohibition on all imports into the Community other than from countries to which the OECD decision applies(**) or other countries (whether or not parties to the Convention) with which, subject to certain conditions, bilateral or multilateral agreements or arrangements have been concluded
Exports of waste to third party countries
— prohibition on all exports other than to EFTA countries which are also parties to the Basle Convention
— exports to EFTA countries may be banned in the absence of the country of destination's written consent or in cases where the EFTA country cannot manage the waste concerned in an ecological fashion
— the competent authority of the dispatching state must be satisfied that waste whose export to an EFTA country has been authorised will be managed in an environmentally sound manner throughout the period of shipment and in the country of destination
— bilateral agreements or arrangements are not permitted
— prohibition on all exports other than to countries to which the OECD decision applies(**) or which are parties to the Basle Convention and/or with which, subject to clearly defined conditions, member states have concluded bilateral or multilateral agreements or arrangements
Transit through the Community of waste from a third party state
— system of prior authorisation by the authorities of transit
— same system as for waste for disposal, but more flexible in the case of waste for recovery originating from or in transit to countries to which the OECD decision applies(**)
(**) all the OECD member states except Japan
Waste treatment methods
TYPE OF WASTE
Household refuse and associated industrial waste
CLASS 3 TIPS
CLASS 2 TIPS
CLASS 1 TIPS
STORAGE IN MINES
Reporting committee: Committee on the Environment, Regional Planning and Local Authorities.
Budgetary implications for the Assembly: none.
Reference to committee: Doc. 6572 and Reference No. 1774 of 11 March 1992.
Draft recommendation adopted by the committee on 2 September 1993.
Members of the committee: MM. Parisi (Chairman), Ruffy, Lord Newall (Vice-Chairmen), MM. Adamowicz, Alemyr, G. Bjarnason, Mrs Blunck, MM. Bondevik (Alternate: Mrs Gjřrv), MM. Bonrepaux, Brennan, Briane, Büchel, Demiralp, Dimmer, Mrs Dromberg, MM. Eversdijk, Feldmann, Ferrarini, González Laxe, Mrs Graenitz, MM. Grandstedt, Hadjidemetriou, Hardy, Homs i Ferret, Jung, Konstantopoulos, Kukk, Lanner, Lotz, Mészáros, Monfils, Mozetic (Alternate: Pahor), Pinto, Redmond (Alternate: Sir Donald Thompson), Reis Leite (Alternate: Curto), Mrs Robert, MM. Rubner, Sarens, Semerdjiev, Mrs Severinsen, MM. Siemienowicz, Sŧomka, Talay, Toshev, Tummers, Vassiliades, Vella, Zierer.
N.B. The names of those who took part in the vote are printed in italics.
Secretaries to the committee: Mrs Cagnolati-Staveris and Mr Sich.
1 1For example, glass recovery was until recently still a source of income for Swiss municipalities but is not any more. Indeed, it may cost them money.
2 1Nevertheless, the materials accepted for these sites must be carefully checked. Such sites are a great temptation to those who wish to be rid of dangerous substances without meeting the cost.
3 1Pollution, and in particular atmospheric pollution, attributable to the incineration of "non-dangerous" waste has already been dealt with in the directives on the prevention and reduction of air pollution by new and existing waste incineration plants (86/369/EEC and 89/429/EEC).