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European Commission publishes end-of-waste criteria for steel, iron and aluminium

End-of-waste criteria for steel, iron and aluminium scrap has been published by the European Commission (EC).

It states that the scrap ceases to be a waste once any treatment needed to prepare it for use at steel or aluminium works or foundries is completed. Types of treatment include cutting, shredding, cleaning and de-pollution.

The aim of the criteria is to define the point when the material is no longer classed as a waste. The EC expects the criteria will stimulate recycling markets in the EU, create legal certainty and a level playing field for the recycling industry, while removing administrative burdens associated with waste legislation.

It will also provide harmonised criteria across the EU member states, as differing and incompatible frameworks across member states have caused problems in the past.

Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said: “We must start treating waste as a valuable resource, and the adoption today of these end-of-waste criteria for material streams will really boost our recycling industry and services. It marks another important step towards Europe’s goal of becoming a resource-efficient economy and a recycling society.”

Member states have a transition period of six months before they are obligated to use the criteria. End of waste criteria for copper, paper, glass and compost are currently being prepared by the EC, which classes them as particularly important for EU recycling markets.

British Metals Recycling Association director general Ian Hetherington said: “The reclassification of furnace-ready iron, steel and aluminium scrap as a raw material is great news for the industry and lifts some unnecessarily heavy regulatory burdens.

“This puts UK and European metals recyclers on a level playing field in a highly competitive global market because ferrous metals and aluminium can be transported globally as a product without falling under rules such as the EU Transfrontier Shipment of Waste Regulations.”

The reclassification is particularly beneficial for the UK metals recycling industry as it exports a higher proportion of recovered metal than other EU member states.

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