Waste Framework Directive Has Changed. Do You Know Your Responsibilities?

The Waste Framework Directive (WFD) was set out by the European Union to create a legislative framework for the collection, transport, recovery and disposal of waste across different countries. Although this legislation is no longer directly enforceable in the UK, it should still be of interest to businesses and organisations as it sets the standards national legislation seeks to implement.

UK regulation often incorporates or makes direct reference to sections within the Directives. So, you need to refer to the Directive and the national regulations to fully understand the duties.

This blog will explain how the waste framework directive has changed in the UK since Brexit and how businesses can apply the waste management hierarchy to adapt to these changes.

How Has the Waste Framework Directive Changed in the UK?

Several amendments have been made to the Waste Framework Directive since the UK left the European Union at the start of 2020. Although much of the legislation remains the same, local authorities now have new responsibilities and targets they must meet when dealing with waste at the end of its lifecycle. 

Here’s a breakdown of some of the critical changes local authorities need to be aware of: 

  • Councils must now provide a separate collection of paper, plastics, metal and glass.
  • New targets have been introduced to reduce the amount of biodegradable municipal waste sent to landfills.
  • There’s stricter control over how councils deal with hazardous waste when it’s ready for disposal.

In addition to this, amendments to the Waste Framework Directive mean organisations must use the harmonised end of waste test to establish the waste status of certain materials. 

The changes mentioned above are essential for local authorities to be aware of. Not only is there more responsibility on your shoulders when it comes to managing waste, but you can also be financially penalised for the mismanagement of waste.

To learn more about the Waste Framework Directive and how your organisation can keep on top of waste legislation, we recommend keeping this article laid out by the government close by.

Applying the Waste Management Hierarchy to Adapt to These Changes

The Waste Hierarchy sets out a hierarchy of options for managing waste in the best way for the environment while also following legislation set out by the government. 

Divided into five sections, the hierarchy guides local authorities on preventing waste, preparing waste for reuse, NLWA recycling, finding other recovery routes and disposing of waste.

But how can the hierarchy be applied to adapt to the changes set out in the Waste Framework Directive?

1. Reduce

The waste management hierarchy prioritises reducing or preventing as much waste generation as possible. By using the hierarchy, councils can create new initiatives and work with their constituents to reduce waste in their local area.

2. Reuse

Preparing materials for reuse in their original form is the second-best approach to waste management. Local authorities should take the time to consider the types of waste dropped off at their sites and, if possible, find ways for them to be reused across different areas of society.

3. Recycle

Councils can invest in machines such as compactors which make it possible to recycle materials such as polystyrene. Check out our North London Waste Authority case study to see a real-life example of this.

4. Recovery

When further recycling is not practical or possible, councils can recover energy or materials from waste through processes such as:

  • Incineration
  • Anaerobic digestion
  • Gasification
  • Pyrolysis

5. Disposal

Waste at this stage will go to landfill. This is the last resort when all other hierarchy options have been considered and exhausted. However, by following the previous steps mentioned above, councils should avoid this from happening most of the time.

Understanding the waste hierarchy and meeting legislative requirements starts with strategy. But creating an effective waste management strategy that helps you meet your goals can be difficult for many councils.

That’s why we’ve created a guide that provides insight into how your organisation can improve your waste strategy and build a more sustainable operation. It’s available to download below.

Waste Management Strategy Guide