Meaning of waste—what is waste?
Meaning of waste—what is waste?

The following Environment practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Meaning of waste—what is waste?
  • Brexit impact
  • Interpretation issues
  • Guidance
  • Key questions when determining whether something is waste

Any substance or object is capable of being waste. Determining whether or not a substance or object is waste is complex, and has significant legal and economic consequences for the waste holder.

The primary definition of waste is set out in the revised Waste Framework Directive 2008 (rWFD). Waste is 'any substance or object which the holder discards or intends or is required to discard'. See Practice Note: Meaning of waste—definition of waste.

The rWFD:

  1. sets out the legal regulatory framework for waste collection, transport, recovery and disposal

  2. provides a common, but complex, definition of waste

  3. codifies some of the existing case law on the meaning of waste

The term 'Directive waste' is often used to describe substances or objects that fall within the scope of the rWFD. The definition is important not only for understanding the scope of the rWFD but also for determining the application of other EU legislation, eg the REACH Regulation EC 1907/2006 does not apply to waste as defined in the WFD.

Brexit impact

11 pm (GMT) on 31 December 2020 marks the end of the Brexit transition/implementation period entered into following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. At this poi

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