Categories of waste
Waste can be divided into product areas or groups.
Municipal waste or domestic waste
Under the Environmental Protection Act, municipal waste means waste generated by households and other waste similar to household waste generated by the manufacturing, trade, service and other industries and the public sector.
Several environmental protection objectives are set out in the Waste Directive, including the need to increase the re-use and recycling of waste materials (paper, metals, plastics and glass) from households and possibly from other sources, where the flows of waste are similar to household waste, to at least 50 % of the total mass by 2020. In the amendment to the 2018 directive, this limit was set slightly higher, gradually increasing to 55 % by 2025, to 60 % by 2030 and to 65 % by 2035.
In order to achieve the set objective, individual fractions of municipal waste must be collected separately, if this is technically and environmentally feasible and if it does not cause disproportionate costs. Separate waste is easier to process and recycle with quality.
In Slovenia, municipalities are required by law to provide a public service for the collection of municipal waste, the transport of municipal waste, the treatment of mixed municipal waste and the disposal of residues after the processing or disposal of municipal waste. Waste collection means the collection of waste, including pre-sorting and pre-storage for the purpose of transport to a waste treatment facility.
Non-hazardous and hazardous waste is generated in households. The public service provider collects:
- mixed municipal waste
- biological waste and
- waste packaging made of plastic, metals and composite materials.
The public service provider must also ensure separate collection for individual fractions of waste (waste paper and cardboard, waste packaging made of paper, cardboard, plastic, composite materials and glass). All the waste that is generated in households and cannot be classified in any of these groups is classified as mixed municipal waste.
Waste from production and service activities
Waste from production and service activities represents the majority of all waste. Waste is classified in groups with regard to its origin (industry, trade).
Agricultural waste is not municipal waste. It is not permitted to be mixed and disposed of together with mixed municipal waste or as a separate fraction of municipal waste.
In principle, three fractions of waste are generated on farms during farming:
- non-hazardous waste from agriculture,
- hazardous waste from agriculture and
- packaging waste
Part of non-hazardous agricultural waste is biological waste that can be treated aerobically or anaerobically by farmers.
Mining and waste from the extraction of non-metallic raw material
A mineral resource or mineral is the concentration or occurrence of organic or inorganic substances in or on the earth's crust, such as, for example, energy raw materials, metallic raw minerals (ores) and non-metallic mineral resources (industrial minerals and building mineral resources).
Mining waste is also generated during the extraction and enrichment of mineral resources. Mining waste from non-metallic mineral raw materials in Slovenia is classified as inert and non-hazardous.
Packaging is divided according to:
- purpose of use,
- reusability and
- type of packaging material.
According to the purpose of use, packaging is divided into three basic groups:
- sales or primary packaging,
- group or secondary packaging and
- transport or tertiary packaging.
Depending on the possibility of re-use, the packaging is divided into:
- returnable packaging (multiple use) and
- non-returnable packaging (used only once).
The types of packaging material are:
- paper and paperboard,
- composite materials (composite) and
- other materials (ceramics, textiles, materials of biological origin).
Packaging may be marked to identify the packaging material, but this is not mandatory. These markings are intended to make recovery easier and better, including the sorting of collected packaging waste.
Packaging waste is divided according to the source of generation and recipient of waste into packaging waste that is municipal waste and packaging waste that is not municipal waste. Municipal waste is generated mainly in households, while non-municipal waste is generated due to the performance of activities (example production, service, trade). Municipal waste is collected by public waste collection service providers, while non-municipal waste is collected directly by packaging waste management companies.
The provisions of the Regulation on the Management of Packaging and Packaging Waste applies to all packaging placed on the market and to all packaging waste generated in industry, crafts, trade, services and other activities, households or elsewhere, regardless of the packaging material used. Exceptions are provided by special regulations.
The end user must collect, store and dispose of packaging waste that is municipal waste (waste packaging generated in households) at collection points of separate fractions or at collection centres, which must be arranged within the mandatory local public service of collection and transport of municipal waste.
The handling of packaging and packaging waste in Slovenia is regulated on the basis of the principle of extended producer responsibility. This means that packaging manufacturers are responsible for setting up and financing the waste management system resulting from the use of the packaged product. Producers must provide and finance the system for managing all packaging waste generated in Slovenia, both in households (municipal packaging waste) and for the implementation of production or service activities and the implementation of work in agriculture, forestry, fishing and transport (non-municipal packaging waste).
The public service provider must hand over the collected packaging waste to the packaging waste management company, which, as a company, ensures its handling in accordance with the regulations. The company ensures the regular collection of packaging waste, which is municipal waste, in collection centres or in centres for the treatment of municipal waste by public service providers. It also ensures the re-use, processing or removal of accepted packaging waste.
Waste electrical and electronic equipment
The rules for the management of waste electrical and electronic equipment are set out in the Decree on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment. In order to protect the environment and protect human health, the decree lays down the rules to prevent or reduce the harmful effects of the generation and handling of waste electrical and electronic equipment.
The products of electrical and electronic equipment are developing very quickly, and their use is spreading to almost all areas of modern life. The vast majority of this type of equipment, including mobile phones and used computers, contains hazardous substances and components, and materials that contain such substances. As a result, most waste electrical equipment is hazardous waste that must be handled appropriately. If it is discarded or disposed of as mixed municipal waste, further handling may result in personal injury or end up in a municipal waste landfill that does not belong there, as it is hazardous waste. In both cases, hazardous substances can be released into the environment.
As this is the fastest growing mass flow of waste, the management of waste electrical equipment has been identified as one of the priority areas for which uniform measures are being established at the level of the entire European Union. Until a few years ago, most of this equipment ended up in landfills, incinerated or recycled without any pre-treatment. The result was the release of hazardous substances into the environment and a large loss of potential sources of raw materials. Therefore, the separate collection of this type of waste, the elimination of hazardous substances from waste equipment in waste treatment centres for electrical and electronic equipment and the further appropriate management of them are essential.
Waste electrical and electronic equipment collected from distributors (traders) is not handed over directly to manufacturers and acquirers of electricity equipment. This equipment is collected by authorised manufacturers, and is then dismantled in treatment centres, where hazardous components and substances are removed and then handed over for further treatment and recycling. Manufacturers and acquirers of electricity equipment fulfil their obligations under the so-called joint waste electrical and electronic equipment management plans. They must collect the waste equipment free of charge from distributors who deliver new equipment to them, and, in proportion to the share of the electrical equipment they place on the market, from the local public service providers of municipal waste management. Producers are committed to achieving certain targets for collected and recycled waste electrical and electronic equipment. The proper management of this type of equipment is monitored by environmental inspectors.
Even if the end user disposes of the electrical appliance from the household as mixed municipal waste, the local public service providers must separate it during sorting and treat it as hazardous waste.
Waste batteries and accumulators
A battery or accumulator is any source of electrical energy that results from the direct conversion of chemical energy and consists of one or more primary cells (not rechargeable) or one or more secondary cells (rechargeable).
The placing on the market of batteries and accumulators is subject to the prohibition of the placing on the market of such products containing dangerous substances. The legislation lays down specific rules for the collection, treatment, recycling and disposal of waste batteries and accumulators and the environmental objectives of their separate collection.
For all types of batteries and accumulators, regardless of their shape, size, weight, material composition or use, without prejudice to the implementation of the regulation governing the management of end-of-life vehicles and to the implementation of the regulation governing the management of waste electrical and electronic equipment, the aforementioned regulation shall apply. It distinguishes three main groups of batteries and accumulators, namely portable, industrial and automotive batteries and accumulators.
Portable batteries are those that are sealed, manually portable, and are neither automotive nor industrial batteries or accumulators. They are divided into two groups:
- Single-use batteries (zinc-carbon and alkaline batteries for general use), button cells and lithium oxide batteries, which together make up about 75 % of all portable batteries, and
- rechargeable batteries (nickel-cadmium, nickel-metal hydride, lithium-ion and lead-acid batteries), which make up about 25 % of all portable batteries.
Industrial batteries are those that are intended exclusively for industrial or professional use or are used in all types of electric vehicles. These are, for example:
- lead-acid batteries (96 % of all industrial batteries),
- nickel-cadmium batteries (2 % of all industrial batteries),
- other batteries (2 % of all industrial batteries),
Car batteries and accumulators are used to start vehicles and power their lights.
The management of waste batteries and accumulators raises several environmental issues, mainly due to the metals contained in these products. The most problematic metals are mercury, lead and cadmium. Lead-acid batteries, nickel-cadmium batteries and mercury-containing batteries have been classified as hazardous waste by a European Commission Decision. Other metals commonly used in batteries (zinc, copper, manganese, lithium and nickel) can also pose a potential hazard to the environment.
Waste portable batteries and accumulators must not be disposed of as mixed municipal waste, but must be stored separately from other waste and handed over to a distributor in shops, a public service provider in collection centres or handed over to a collector of waste portable batteries and accumulators.
Manufacturers of car batteries and accumulators must provide the free collection of waste car batteries and accumulators, regardless of their origin, and acceptance must not be conditional on the purchase of a new car battery or accumulator.
In the Republic of Slovenia, the number of newly registered road vehicles is increasing every year. The growth trend of registered passenger cars is similar, from around 700,000 in the mid-1990s to almost 1,150,000 in recent years. The latest estimates show that at least 30,000 end-of-life vehicles are generated annually in Slovenia.
The rules for the management of end-of-life vehicles are set out in the Decree on end-of-life vehicles, and differ from other regulations introducing extended producer responsibility in terms of the scope of ensuring the management of waste products. The manufacturer must, at its own expense, provide a system for the collection and collection of end-of-life vehicles of its brand and the collection of waste parts of vehicles of its brand, and the disposal of all collected end-of-life vehicles. The obligation to carry out the prescribed treatment and to achieve the prescribed environmental objectives of re-use, recycling and recovery is imposed on all economic operators.
One of the essential measures for the operation of the end-of-life vehicle management system is to obtain a certificate of decommissioning. The last owner of the vehicle must present a certificate of destruction of the vehicle when the vehicle is deregistered. The decommissioning service is free of charge for the last owner.
Construction and demolition waste
Construction waste without excavations includes materials generated during the construction and renovation of buildings and demolition. Construction waste originates from the construction of civil engineering structures, geotechnical works and the construction of roads and bridges. The majority of this waste comes from the demolition and renovation of building structures, and only about 10 % of this waste comes from the construction of new facilities.
Construction waste mainly includes concrete and bricks, which make up about 70 % to 90 % of the total amount of this waste. The rest is wood, metals and other types of construction waste.
In Slovenia, less than half of construction waste is processed, and the rest is disposed of in non-hazardous waste landfills and used as backfill material for various earth depressions or in some other way.
Biodegradable waste is waste from gardens and parks, food and kitchen waste from households, restaurants, catering and retail stores, and comparable waste from food processing plants. Biodegradable waste is any waste that can degrade aerobically or anaerobically.
Mandatory management of biodegradable waste generated in kitchens and in the distribution of food in the food industry (catering), kitchen waste generated in the household and green garden waste is determined by the Decree on the management of biodegradable kitchen waste and green garden waste.
The rules of conduct and other conditions relating to the recovery of biodegradable waste and the use of compost or digestate are laid down in the Regulation on the recovery of biodegradable waste and the use of compost or digestate.
Due to its high organic and biodegradable content, biodegradable waste is particularly suitable for aerobic (composting) and anaerobic (biogas) processing.
The simplest way of processing separately collected biodegradable waste is composting, with which new, useful organic substances (compost) is obtained. Home composting is the composting of biodegradable waste generated in an individual household as kitchen waste or as green garden waste.
The basic condition for the production of high-quality compost, which can be marketed or used in our own garden, is the awareness of the individual and the proper separation of biodegradable waste at source. It has been proven that only by proper separation of biodegradable waste at the source can the purity of raw materials can be achieved, which is a condition for the high-quality decomposition of this waste and a high-quality product (compost or digestate).
Hazardous waste is waste in which the concentration of hazardous substances is such that it has one or more of the hazardous properties described in the waste management regulations. Hazardous waste contains hazardous substances or is mixed with hazardous substances.
Classifying waste as hazardous or non-hazardous, and in particular understanding when and under what conditions waste should be considered hazardous, is a key decision throughout the waste management chain from generation to final treatment. When waste is properly classified as hazardous, a number of important obligations come into force, such as marking and packaging, as well as available compliant treatment.
Roughly speaking, depending on the source, waste that has one or more hazardous properties can be divided into hazardous waste from industry and hazardous waste from households.
The most common hazardous waste in households is medicines, batteries, solvents, acids and bases, waste motor oils, pesticides, fluorescent tubes and other wastes containing mercury, waste electrical and electronic equipment, paints and adhesives containing dangerous substances, detergents containing dangerous substances, and wood and packaging containing dangerous substances or residues of dangerous substances.
The improper handling of any waste, especially hazardous waste, can lead to adverse effects on the environment, such as releases to air, surface and groundwater or soil. In addition to short-term negative impact on the environment, these also have possible long-term impact.
Waste generated in the performance of health and veterinary activities and related research, due to the method of generation, properties and quantities, requires special handling. The waste generator must ensure that healthcare waste is not disposed of as mixed municipal waste, but is disposed of in dedicated containers or bags.
Radioactive waste is waste that is classified as radioactive waste due to certain radioactive properties according to the regulations on protection against ionising radiation.
Radioactive waste may therefore constitute substances in gaseous, liquid or solid form, objects or equipment that are waste products of radiation practices or intervention measures, for which no further use is anticipated, but which contain radioactive substances or are radioactively contaminated beyond clearance levels. According to the most generally accepted classification, radioactive waste is divided according to the level of its specific activity into the following categories:
- transient radioactive waste,
- very low level radioactive waste,
- low- and intermediate-level waste
- highly radioactive waste,
- radioactive waste with natural radionuclides generated during the extraction and processing of nuclear minerals or in other industrial processes and which are not sealed radiation sources.