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Waste covers substances or objects that the owner discards, intends to discard or has to discard. Waste is categorised into municipal waste, industrial waste, construction waste and mining waste. Because waste is an environmental problem, Slovenia endeavours to limit the adverse effects on human health and the environment in waste generation and management, to reduce resource use, and to practise appropriate waste management.

Waste situation in Slovenia

Like everywhere else in the world, the amount of waste in Slovenia has been increasing. Slovenia produces on average over 8 million tons of waste per year. More than a million tons thereof is municipal waste, amounting to 495 kg of waste per capita. Hazardous municipal waste accounts for 6,700 tons of all municipal waste, but efforts to reduce it have already proved successful.

In the past, most municipal waste ended up in landfills. With amendments to legislation, through policy instruments and by establishing municipal waste management centres, this trend has been reversed, with the proportion of separately collected waste and the recycling rate both increasing. This has made Slovenia one of the European countries with the highest recycling rate for municipal waste (59%).

Resource efficiency through the circular economy

Promoting sustainable management of natural resources and efficient use thereof, especially by supporting the transition to a circular economy, are key aspects of waste management. Both waste prevention and preparation for reuse and recycling make it possible to manufacture products from resources that have already been used, which greatly reduces the burden on natural resources. As a result, energy use and additional environmental impacts are reduced to some extent. The transition to circular resource management requires comprehensive changes that include the entire product life-cycle, from design and selection of the material, not just the end-of-life phase.

When a substance or object becomes waste, it becomes subject to waste management legislation. Slovenia follows the fundamental European guidelines in this area, with the common objective of waste prevention or reduction of existing waste. Waste generation and management follow the following order of priority: waste prevention, preparation for reuse, recycling, other recovery methods (e.g. energy recovery) and disposal. In order to carry out these processes effectively, waste must be sorted correctly on the site where it is generated. Waste management takes into the account both the environmental aspect and the economic viability of the processes.

The polluter pays principle

The oldest environmental principle, the "polluter pays principle", stipulates that the polluter covers all the costs of the prescribed measures for the prevention and reduction of pollution and environmental risk, the use of the environment, and the elimination of the consequences of the environmental burden, including the costs of implementing preventive and remedial measures in the event of environmental damage.

For the purposes of waste prevention, including the reuse of products and the preparation for reuse, recycling and other types of waste recovery after the end-of-life of certain products, extended producer responsibility may be stipulated for producers of such products. This determines the producer’s obligations throughout the product life-cycle, though users are most familiar with the obligations on products’ end-of-life. Waste management under extended producer responsibility is currently in force for the following mass waste streams: packaging, electrical and electronic equipment, portable batteries and accumulators, candles for graves, plant protection products containing hazardous substances, medicinal drugs, and end-of life tyres and vehicles.