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Legal framework

EC directive on waste as legal basis

Waste management in Europe today is largely influenced by a series of European regulations. Basis of all current EU waste legislation is the Directive 2008/98/EC on waste, also called Waste Framework Directive. The Waste Framework Directive sets the basic concepts and definitions related to waste management, such as definitions of waste, recycling, and recovery. It also lays down some basic waste management principles: it requires that waste be managed without endangering human health and harming the environment, and in particular without risk to water, air, soil, plants or animals, without causing a nuisance through noise or odours, and without adversely affecting the countryside or places of special interest.

The Waste Management hierarchy

The Waste Framework Directive has laid down a five-step hierarchy of waste management options which must be applied by Member States when developing their national waste policies:

  1. Waste prevention
  2. Preparing for re-use
  3. Recycling
  4. Recovery (including energy recovery)
  5. Safe disposal, as a last resort

The 3R approach: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

The European Week for Waste Reduction project keeps to this hierarchy by raising awareness on its’ three highest levels: Waste prevention, Preparation for reuse and Recycling. But in the scope of the EWWR project, another segmentation of included waste management options is chosen: in order to make the project and its themes of action easy to understand for all European citizens, the popular and well-known 3R approach is chosen: reduce, reuse, recycle.

  1. Reduce - Strict avoidance and reduction at source
  2. Reuse - Preparing for reuse and reuse
  3. Recycle - Waste sorting and recycling

In order to find out more about the 3Rs, please go to the project page.

The 3R approach of EWWR and the EC waste hierarchy

Considering that the first level of the EC waste hierarchy deals with waste before it is produced, it includes waste reduction and product reuse in waste prevention. Preparation for reuse on the other hand forms a level by itself. The 3rd level of recycling remains the same in both the EC waste hierarchy and the 3R approach:

EC waste hierarchy
3R approach of EWWR EC waste hierarchy