Packaging & Packaging Waste

The Waste Framework Directive creates a new framework for waste management in the EU in order to encourage the re-use and the recycling of waste materials and to simplify existing legislation.

Directive 2006/12/EC on waste has been revised in order to modernise and streamline its provisions. The revised Directive 2008/98/EC (‘the Directive) sets the basic concepts and definitions related to waste managament and lays down waste management principles such as the "polluter pays principle" or the "waste hierarchy".

The Directive lays down measures to protect the environment and human health by preventing or reducing the adverse impacts of the generation and management of waste and by reducing overall impacts of resource use and improving efficiency.
The Directive simplifies and modernises current EU waste legislation by:

  • clarifying the notions of recovery, disposal, end of waste status and by-product;
  • defining the conditions for mixing hazardous waste;
  • providing for measures to encourage the separate collection of bio-waste with a view to the composting and digestion of bio-waste;
  • requiring EU countries to take measures in terms of control of hazardous waste.


The Directive introduces a new approach to waste management which focuses on prevention. The EU countries shall therefore establish waste prevention programmes no later than 12 December 2013 and the European Commission shall report regularly on the progress made in this area.

Waste hierarchy
The Directive lays down a five-step hierarchy of waste management options which must be applied by countries when developing their national waste policies:

  1. waste prevention;
  2. re-use;
  3. recycling;
  4. recovery (including energy recovery);
  5. safe disposal, as a last resort.

In this respect, the new legislation considers energy-efficient waste incineration a recovery operation, provided that it complies with certain energy-efficiency criteria.

Transparency and sustainable management 
European countries shall ensure that the development of waste legislation and policy is a fully transparent process, observing existing national rules about the consultation and involvement of citizens and stakeholders. They shall also take into account the general environmental protection principles of precaution and sustainability, technical feasibility and economic viability, protection of resources as well as the overall environmental, human health, economic and social impacts.

Producer responsibility 
In order to strengthen the re-use and the prevention, recycling and other recovery of waste, countries may take measures to ensure that any natural or legal person who professionally develops, manufactures, processes, treats, sells or imports products (producer of the product) has extended producer responsibility. These measures may include the obligation to provide publicly available information as to the extent to which the product is re-usable and recyclable.

Directive 2008/98/EC was technically transposed on 12 December 2010, however it sets some targets for the future.  In order to move towards a European recycling society with a high level of resource efficiency the following targets were set:

  • By 2015, separate collection shall be set up for at least the following: paper, metal, plastic and glass.
  • By 2020, the preparing for re-use and the recycling of waste materials such as at least paper, metal, plastic and glass from households and possibly from other origins as far as these waste streams are similar to waste from households, shall be increased to a minimum of overall 50% by weight;
  • By 2020, the preparing for re-use, recycling and other material recovery, including backfilling operations using waste to substitute other materials, of non-hazardous construction and demolition waste excluding naturally occurring material defined in category 17 in the list of waste shall be increased to a minimum of 70% by weight.
  • By 31 December 2014 the European Commission shall examine the measures and the targets referred to in the Directive with a view to, if necessary, reinforcing the targets and considering the setting of targets for other waste streams.

And finally the Directive also officially repeals a few older Directives:

  • Waste Framework Directive (Directive2006/12/EC)
  • The Directive on hazardous waste (Directive 91/689/EEC)
  • Part of the Directive on waste oils (Directive 75/439/EEC).