Directive 2008/98/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 November 2008 on waste and repealing certain Directives, known by its short title as the Waste Framework Directive, entered into force on 12 December 2008. The directive provides a legal framework for the treatment of waste within the EU. The purpose of this directive is to protect the environment, human health and resources. It is aimed at moving the EU closer to the goal of being a recycling society by increasing the volume of waste that is collected separately and recovered.
The main stipulations of the Waste Framework Directive cover the definition and specification of the key legal terms in waste law, the establishment of a new five-level waste hierarchy (prevention, preparing for re-use, recycling, other recovery – for example energy recovery – and disposal) to replace the earlier three-level hierarchy (prevention, recovery, disposal), regulations for defining by-products and end-of-waste status as independent categories in distinct opposition to the term waste, and requirements for waste prevention and member states’ obligation to create waste prevention programmes and to achieve recycling quotas for municipal waste (50 percent) and construction/demolition waste (70 percent) by 2020. The principle of producer responsibility was also incorporated into the Waste Framework Directive. This principle can entail the producers’ obligation to take back and dispose of returned end-of-life products. The directive also includes special provisions for hazardous waste, waste oil and biowaste.
Germany transposed the directive into national law with the Act to Promote Circular Economy and Safeguard the Environmentally Compatible Management of Waste (Circular Economy Act, Kreislaufwirtschaftsgesetz, KrWG). As it announced in February 2015 on withdrawing its legislative proposal from the Circular Economy Package published in July 2014, the European Commission presented a new proposal on 2 December 2015. This contains a legislative proposal on amending provisions of the Waste Framework Directive, the Directive on Packaging Waste, the Landfill Directive, the End-of-Life Vehicles Directive, the Directives on (Waste) Batteries and (Waste) Accumulators and the Directive on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment. It also contains an action plan addressing the individual stages of the circular economy. The goal of this package is to drive forward the transition to a circular economy in which waste is increasingly used as a resource.