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EU to clean up waste laws

The European Commission is planning to rewrite the European Union's (EU) waste law book, as part of a comprehensive effort to simplify existing EU legislation.

Aiming to ease the impact of often complex and baffling regulations on European industry, Brussels has promised to rewrite and combine the 18 EU directives and six regulations that currently govern the waste sector.

In a detailed plan, it said: "The recasting of these texts will provide (recycling service providers) with a much clearer and more streamlined regulatory framework."

A prime target for clarification is the waste framework directive, which has been amended many times: these changes and the original will be rolled into one single law.

Furthermore, the texts themselves will be improved.

A statement said: "There would be significant benefits from clarifying when a waste ceases to be a waste. For example, there is need to clarify the point at which compost has been sufficiently processed so that it no longer needs to be covered by the waste legislation. This could help raise environmental standards and stimulate the market for such recycled products."

Another area requiring clarification are framework directive rules specifying when construction and demolition wastes are of a high enough environmental quality to be used again as aggregates without being controlled by the directive's (and related legislation's) often tough demands on disposal and transport.

This, said the Commission, "could help increase the use of such recycled products and reduce the need for primary aggregates".

It promised to create "clear end of waste criteria", helping businesses and regulators.

Another change is a planned abolition of the waste oil directive, which insists waste oil be regenerated as a priority over other methods of disposal, recycling or recovery. "Recent scientific information indicates that regeneration is no longer more environmentally advantageous than other treatment methods such as combustion," said the Commission.

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