Managing waste in an environmentally sound manner and making use of the secondary materials they contain are key elements of the EU’s environmental policy (EC Environment). The Waste Framework Directive sets the basic concepts and definitions of the waste management, including definitions of waste, recycling, and recovery. It explains with End-of-waste (EoW) criteria when waste ceases to be waste and becomes a secondary raw material, and how to distinguish between waste and by-products (BP).
According to Article 6 (1) and (2) of the Waste Framework Directive, certain specified waste ceases to be waste when it has undergone a recovery operation (including recycling) and complies with specific criteria, in particular when:
- the substance or object is commonly used for specific purposes
- there is an existing market or demand for the substance or object
- the use is lawful (substance or object fulfils the technical requirements for the specific purposes and meets the existing legislation and standards applicable to products)
- the use will not lead to overall adverse environmental or human health impacts
A methodology to develop the criteria has been published by the Joint Research Centre (JRC). The Commission is preparing a set of end-of-waste criteria for priority waste streams. JRC is currently consulting on which recovered material streams might be prioritised for development of European End-of-Waste criteria.
Algae utilise wastewater to produce biomass that can be used as the secondary raw material for a number of products. Water2Return explores the option of utilising algae biomass to produce agricultural biostimulants. JRC is thus considering algal systems for the priority list of waste and material streams for which EoW and BP criteria at the EU level could be developed.