Waste Framework Directive

A revised Waste Framework Directive (WFD) paving the way for a resource efficient Europe.

The EU institutions finally reached an agreement in 2 008 on the revised Waste Framework Directive (WFD). The WFD provides a framework to drive waste
management practices in the EU. The revision was badly needed to bring legal clarity in a number of important areas. In summary the revised WFD provides a strong drive for resource efficiency and diversion of waste from landfill.

Underpinning this is the recognition of the 5 step waste hierarchy as a priority order to be applied flexibly using life cycle thinking to allow each waste stream to be handled in the best environmental way, considering economic viability and technical feasibility.

The hierarchy for improving resource efficiency is (in descending priority order): reduce, reuse, recycle, recover, disposal.

The logic underpinning the hierarchy is that the most resource-efficient approach is not to generate the waste in the first place or to create as little as possible. The next best option is reuse i.e. using an article over-andover again, like a beverage crate or a multi-use shopping bag. If reuse is not feasible then products should be recycled, provided that this is more eco-efficient from a lifecycle perspective than recovery. The last resort is disposal which should be minimised.

The new WFD defines recycling broadly, which will stimulate further development of innovative recycling solutions, expanding from traditional mechanical recycling to encompass recycling of plastics` chemical building blocks for use as a raw material. This offers an innovation upside for the European recycling industry to explore new ways of using resources more efficiently than recovery or landfill.

Extremely demanding recycling targets have also been set for household and demolition waste, which will require tough measures in many Member States but will also act as a driver to minimise waste to landfill.

A landmark change is that efficient energy-from-waste will now be classified as recovery rather than disposal, and as it is one step above landfill it will create strong drivers in society. A climate correction factor will be defined to ensure that countries with warmer climates will still have a good opportunity to meet the energy efficiency criteria.

Broadly-speaking the revised WFD will provide a framework which will enable improved recycling of plastics - both mechanical and feedstock - via innovative,
eco-efficient technologies. High-calorific waste plastics will be important to help energy-from-waste plants meet the efficiency criteria set for classification as recovery.

Innovative new plastics-enabled solutions will save resources through applications such as packaging, both by reducing waste and by light-weighting the packaging itself. Plastics are resource-efficient materials and will play a key role in driving a resource-efficient Europe.