What happens to plastic bottles once they have been used or to newspapers once they have been read? Are they simply disposed of or can they be re-used or recycled? If so, is this done in the European Union or elsewhere and under what conditions?

Proper waste management is critical to ensure that useful raw materials are fed back into the economy while protecting the environment and public health.

It is an area which has experienced significant regulatory and policy developments over the past few years, both at EU level and globally. In 2018, new EU recycling targets were adopted for municipal waste and packaging waste, together with new requirements on the separate collection of specific waste streams such as textiles or hazardous waste, setting the policy framework of the next decade. The overall aim is to generate less waste, encourage re-use and recycling and minimise landfilling. Also in 2018, an EU strategy for plastics was adopted notably to tackle the issue of marine litter and increase plastic waste recycling rates.

In this rapidly evolving policy field, Milieu has been providing a range of services, including legal analysis, review of national practices, development of policy recommendations and case studies as well as stakeholders’ consultations. It has also established partnerships with a number of external experts in the field of waste management, complementing Milieu’s legal and policy expertise.

Some examples of Milieu’s work in this field are:

Intellectual Services Relative To drafting a Chapter on Waste Management and Circular Economy for the EPR of the United Kingdom (led by Milieu), OECD

The OECD produces regular Environmental Performance Reviews of its member countries. Under this project, Milieu prepared the chapter on waste management and circular economy for OECD’s Environmental Performance Review of the United Kingdom.

Study on the Impact of (other than REACH/CLP) European Chemical/Waste Regulations on the Defence Sector (Led by Milieu), European Defence Agency (EDA)

In this study, Milieu provided detailed information on the implementation of selected EU chemicals and waste legislation and its impacts on the defence sector, and provided recommendations to tackle the issues identified. Five pieces of legislation that are of concern for the defence sector were considered in the first part of the study: the Biocidal Products Regulation (BPR), Regulation on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs Regulation), Directive on Ozone Depleting Substances (Ozone Regulation), Regulation on fluorinated greenhouse gases (F-gas Regulation), and the RoHS Directive). Milieu explained the scope of and processes under the regulations, their interactions with REACH and CLP Regulations and among each other, and analysed their impacts on the defence sector. In the second part, Milieu analysed the implementation of Article 9(1)(i) and (2) of the Waste Framework Directive, building on the work carried out by REACHLaw in 2016 for the European Defence Agency (EDA) on the ‘Impact of REACH and CLP European Chemical Regulations on the Defence Sector’. The study supported the development of a more consistent approach in EU chemicals’ legislation in relation to the defence sector.

Study on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for monitoring implementation of national programmes on safe and long-term management of spent fuel and radioactive waste (Led by Milieu), DG ENV

The objective of the study was to analyse the KPIs detailed in Member States’ national radioactive waste programmes, including the approaches used for their development. In this study, Milieu and its partner GRS gGmbH analysed Member States’ implementation of the Directive in terms of approaches and practices to keep the generation of radioactive waste to a minimum and approaches and practices to optimise radioactive waste and spent fuel management. The study also provided recommendations on how to develop and use KPIs in the context of radioactive waste management.

Background data collection for future EU end-of-waste criteria of construction and demolition waste (Led by TAUW), DG GROW

As one of the key building blocks of the European Green Deal, the Circular Economy Action Plan aims to further close the resource loop throughout the lifecycle of products. As the construction sector is the largest single source of waste in the EU, Milieu is proud to contribute to the study and increased circularity of this important sector. A key part of the project is to identify and consult stakeholders along the construction value chain and related waste streams, to consider different perspectives and to gain knowledge to support future EU end-of-waste criteria.