Prevention of waste
Waste prevention comprise measures taken before a substance, material or product becomes waste in order to reduce:
- the amount of waste, including the re-use of products or their extension,
- adverse effects of the generated waste on the environment and human health, or
- the content of hazardous substances in materials and products.
The natural resources on earth, such as water, soil, metals, minerals, fuels, and biodiversity, provide us with food, energy, shelter and other goods that we use to survive and develop. In the declaration "Resilient People, Resilient Planet: A Future Worth Choosing", the United Nations has warned that our planet is under pressure caused by a rapidly growing population. It is estimated that we will need 50% more food and 45% more energy globally in less than 20 years. Despite such increasing consumption, however, available resources remain limited. All this is reflected in the overloading of the carrying capacity of the planet and the lack of raw materials and food.
Almost 15 tonnes of raw materials are consumed per person in the EU each year, while each EU citizen generates more than 4.5 tonnes of waste per year on average. Almost half of this waste ends up in landfills. The linear model of the economy, which illustrates the extraction of raw materials from nature, production, consumption and disposal, is no longer sustainable. Through the transition to a circular economy, we are shifting to the re-use, repair, recovery and recycling of existing raw materials and products. What was once considered waste can now become a resource. It is characteristic of the circular economy that from the very beginning all materials and products are designed in such a way that they retain their value and are in use for as long as possible in their life cycle, and that they become waste as late as possible or never. Due to its multiple diverse uses and ecological advantages, wood, which we have in abundance in Slovenia, is an ideal material for the accelerated transition to a circular economy.
Measures to prevent waste generation
Measures affecting the framework conditions related to waste generation
- Use of planning measures or other economic instruments that promote resource efficiency.
- Promoting research and development in the field of cleaner and fewer wasteful products and technologies, and disseminating and using the results of such research and development.
- Development of effective and relevant indicators of environmental pressures related to waste generation aimed at contributing to waste prevention at all levels, from product comparison at the community level through action by local authorities to national measures.
Measures affecting the design, production and distribution phases
- Promoting eco-friendly design (the systematic integration of environmental aspects into product design in order to improve the environmental performance of the product throughout its life cycle).
- Providing information on waste prevention techniques in order to facilitate the implementation of best available techniques in the industry.
- Organisation of training of competent authorities on the inclusion of waste prevention requirements in permits in accordance with Directive 2008/98/EC on waste and Directive 2010/75/EU on industrial emissions.
- Inclusion of waste prevention measures in installations not covered by Directive 2010/75/EU on industrial emissions. Such measures may include, as appropriate, waste prevention assessments or plans.
- Use of awareness-raising or financial aid, decision-making or other business assistance campaigns. Such measures are likely to be particularly effective when targeted at small and medium-sized enterprises, and are tailored to them and operate through established business networks.
- Use of voluntary agreements, consumer/producer associations or sectoral negotiations in order for the relevant companies or industry sectors to set out their own plans or targets for waste prevention or to improve wasteful products or packaging.
- Promoting credible environmental management systems, including EMAS and ISO14001.
Measures affecting the consumption and use phases
- Economic instruments, such as incentives for net purchases or the introduction of mandatory consumer payment for a given product or unit of packaging otherwise provided free of charge.
- Use of awareness campaigns to inform the general public or a specific group of consumers.
- Promoting credible eco-labels.
- Agreements with industries, such as the use of product associations such as those implemented under integrated product policies, or with retailers on the availability of information on waste prevention and products that have a less harmful effect on the environment.
- In the context of public and private procurement, the inclusion of environmental requirements and criteria for waste prevention, as set out in the "Buy Green!" manual issued by the European Commission in 2011, or its updated version from 2016.
- Promoting the re-use and/or repair of relevant discarded products or parts, in particular through the use of educational, economic, logistical or other measures, such as support to authorised centres and networks for the repair and re-use or establishment of such centres and networks, especially in densely populated regions.
Waste collection means the taking over of waste, including pre-sorting and pre-storage for the purpose of transport to a waste treatment facility.
Waste management hierarchy considered as a priority in waste generation and management
The design, production, distribution, consumption and use of products must be such as to help prevent the generation of waste and increase the possibilities for preparing for the re-use and recycling of waste arising from those products.
Several environmental protection objectives are set out in Directive 2008/98/EC on municipal waste, including the need to re-use and recycle by 2020 waste materials such as paper, metals, plastics and glass from households and, if possible, from other sources, if these waste streams are similar to household waste, to increase to at least 50% of the total mass. In the amendment to the 2018 directive, this limit was set slightly higher, i.e. gradually increasing to 55% by 2025, to 60% by 2030 and to 65% by 2035.
In order to achieve this objective, individual fractions of municipal waste should be collected separately, with the aim of achieving high-quality recycling and improving recovery facilities, before being put into processing operations, provided that this is technically and environmentally feasible and does not incur disproportionate costs.
Two scenarios were developed:
- a minimum scenario of preparation for the re-use and recycling of municipal waste, which still ensures the achievement of environmental objectives, and
- a scenario of a feasible scope of preparation for the re-use and recycling of municipal waste, in which the share of separate collection of kitchen waste is higher, which ensures a smaller scope of mechanical biological treatment of mixed municipal waste before its disposal.
Under to the minimum scenario, 51% of all municipal waste will be collected separately for the purpose of re-use and recycling in 2020, and according to the feasible scenario, the share of separately collected municipal waste for the same purpose will increase to 55%.
Preparation of waste for re-use
Preparation of waste for re-use means the checking, cleaning or repair operations by which products or components of products which have become waste are prepared for re-use without any other pre-treatment.
Re-use aims to extend the life of used products. Compared to early replacement with new products, this has the effect of saving on raw materials and energy and reducing waste.
If re-use occurs before the object is sent for treatment, then this means a direct measure to prevent the generation of waste, regardless of the fact that this required a repair or other measure.
If the object is first handed over to a municipal waste collection or treatment service provider and then preparatory measures follow (e.g. inspection, cleaning, maintenance, repair), this constitutes "preparation for re-use", which is a processing procedure.
This preparation for re-use is thus, on the one hand, a waste treatment measure and, on the other hand, an indirect waste prevention measure. It occupies the second highest place in the five-level framework hierarchy of waste, even before processing and after (direct) prevention.
Recycling is a recovery process in which waste materials are reprocessed into products, materials or substances for their original or other purpose. Recycling also includes the reprocessing of organic matter.
Recycling does not include energy recovery or reprocessing into materials to be used as fuel or for backfilling.
Cessation of waste status
As a general rule, all waste ceases to be waste only after it has been processed into products, materials or substances for the original or other purpose or into energy. However, certain wastes (scrap iron, steel and aluminium, including scrap aluminium alloy, scrap glass and scrap copper) may cease to be waste earlier if they meet the prescribed criteria for the cessation of waste status.
The cessation of waste status occurs when an object can be reused for its original purpose without further processing.
Storage of waste
Waste storage is the storage of waste by a treatment operator until it is processed or disposed of.
Pre-storage of waste is the storage of waste at the collector in a collection centre where the waste is unloaded for the purpose of preparation for transport to the place of its treatment.
Temporary storage of waste is the storage of waste at the original producer of the waste at the place of its generation until its submission or release for collection or treatment.
Transport of waste
A carrier is a legal person or sole proprietor who, as an activity, carries out the transport of waste from other waste holders.
Abandonment of waste
Abandonment of waste is the delivery of waste for further treatment without a record sheet, if this is permitted on the basis of a special regulation governing the management of a certain type of waste.
Cross-border shipment of waste
Shipment of waste means the transport of waste destined for disposal or treatment planned or taking place between one country and another.
Waste treatment means processing or disposal operations that involve preparation for processing or disposal.
The construction and operation of waste treatment facilities and the implementation of any significant changes to these facilities and the performance of waste treatment activities may be carried out with the permission of the competent authorities. The authorities issuing these permits are the competent authority for construction (building permit) and the competent authority for the environment (environmental permit).
Waste processing means any operation in an industrial plant or the wider economy, the main result of which is that the waste serves a useful purpose by replacing other materials that would otherwise be used to perform a particular function, or whether the waste is ready to perform that function.
An incineration plant is any plant which is a stationary or mobile technological unit and equipment intended for the thermal treatment of waste with or without recovery of the combustion heat generated, with waste oxidation incineration and other heat treatment processes such as pyrolysis, gasification or plasma treatment, if the substances resulting from the treatment are subsequently incinerated.
In the waste management hierarchy, waste treatment thermal processes take precedence over disposal by the disposal process, and hierarchical priority is given to waste prevention, re-use and recycling.
Removal of waste
Waste removal is a process that is not recovery, even if the secondary consequence of the process is the extraction of substances or energy.
A disposer is a legal person or sole proprietor who, as an activity, carries out the removal of waste.
Disposal of waste
Waste disposal can be understood as the ultimate stage of waste management. Pre-treated waste may only be disposed of in landfills.
The types of landfills are:
- hazardous waste landfill,
- non-hazardous waste landfill and
- landfill for inert waste.
Municipal waste is waste from households and similar waste from trade, production, business, services and other activities, and the public sector. Pre-treated municipal waste is disposed of in municipal waste landfills, which are considered landfills for non-hazardous waste.