Revision of the EU Waste Framework Directive

Managing waste in an environmentally sound manner and making use of the secondary materials they contain are key elements of the EU’s environmental policy.

The EU Waste Framework Directive (WFD) sets out Europe’s fundamental waste management principles, providing a framework to improve waste prevention and management, stimulate innovation in separate collection and recycling of waste, limit the use of landfilling, and create incentives to change consumer behaviour. It also lays down fundamental waste prevention and management principles based on the five-step ‘waste hierarchy’ – reduce, reuse, recycle, recover, landfilling - under which sending waste to landfill should be the last resort.

Despite the existing legislation on waste, total waste generated has been increasing over the last decade, particularly municipal waste (Eurostat). The European Environment Agency (EEA) reviews on waste prevention also show that the EU is not on course to meet its policy goal of reducing waste generation, while the EEA report on progress towards preventing waste in Europe concludes that Member States rarely set targets and indicators in their Waste Prevention Programmes, hampering the monitoring of waste prevention.

Moreover, the European Green Deal includes a political commitment to ‘simplify waste management for citizens and ensure cleaner secondary materials for businesses’, while the Circular Economy Action Plan commits to significantly reducing total waste generation, aiming to halve the amount of residual (non-recycled) municipal waste by 2030, promote safer and cleaner waste streams, and ensure high-quality recycling.

In this regard, the European Commission is carrying out an impact assessment in preparation for the revision of the Waste Framework Directive. The objectives of the revision are to decrease waste generation, improve separate waste collection to yield optimal recycling results, and to increase the amounts of waste oils collected and treated in line with the waste hierarchy. The revision will also explore opportunities for simplification to make legislation clearer and reduce the burden on citizens and businesses.

A public consultation has been launched to collect additional evidence on existing performance, to seek opinions and insights about the problem, the feasibility and possible impacts (economic, social and environmental) of alternative actions (including what are possible actions), and to gather examples of best practices and views on the subsidiarity of possible actions.

All relevant stakeholders, including but not limited to national authorities, producers and producer responsibility organisations, waste collectors and recyclers, households, businesses, NGOs and scientific experts are invited to partake in this online consultation and provide their input by August 16, 2022.