Sep 19, 2023

EU Directive 1991/31/EC

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In Europe, waste management requirements have been evolving over the last years both at governmental and industrial levels with recycling targets and requirements for minimum recycled content becoming more stringent. A particularly interesting case in point is Austria, whose government has recently decided to implement EU Directive 1991/31/EC as well as the Council Decision 2003/33/EC on a national level by 2024. As a result, some companies are reviewing their current modus operandi, taking practive steps to identify alternatives to landfilling their composite waste in order to be ready in time and able to maintain ongoing manufacturing operations.

Reminder : what is the EU Directive 1991/31/EC?

Often referred to as the “Waste Framework Directive,” EU Directive 1991/31/EC is the cornerstone of EU waste management policy, emphasizing sustainability, environmental protection, and responsible waste handling throughout the European Union.  While the directive does not specifically target fibreglass, it establishes a framework for waste management and environmental protection that has implications for companies that landfill fibreglass or use fibreglass in their products, including:

  • Waste Management: the directive sets out fibreglass waste management principles and encourages recycling and recovery over disposal. EU Companies using fibreglass will need to consider how to manage waste, including recycling or proper disposal, to be compliant.
  • Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR): The directive promotes EPR schemes, where producers are responsible for managing the fibreglass waste generated by their products. EPR obligations for companies using fibreglass include financing recycling programs or take-back systems for their products.
  • Environmental Impact: Because fibreglass production and disposal have environmental impacts (such as energy consumption and emissions), companies are encouraged to explore more environmentally friendly product design and/or alternatives or methods of production.
  • Compliance with Hazardous Waste Regulations: Depending on the specific composition and treatment of fibreglass, it may be classified as hazardous waste, with resultant implications on handling and disposal requirements.

Reminder : what is the Council Decision 2003/33/EC?

Another important EU legal instrument relating to the environment is Council Decision 2003/33/EC which establishes criteria and procedures for the acceptance of waste at landfills, with the primary aim of reducing adverse effects on the environment. It sets out dates by which Member States are expected to adapt their landfill practices to meet the new criteria and requirements and requires Member States to monitor and report on their compliance with the decision’s provisions and the environmental performance of their landfills.

“Preventing waste is the preferred option, and sending waste to landfill should be the last resort.”

Source: EC Waste Framework Directive