Legislation and Policy

The European Union has a framework for regulating waste management within the Community based upon the strategic objectives outlined in the Thematic Strategy. Since the Thematic Strategy has recently been updated, the EU waste management legislation is also in the process of being updated to reflect the new objectives of this recent strategy. The main aim of EU waste legislation is to limit the generation of waste within the community as much as possible and particularly to decouple the increase in waste generation from the increase in the economic prosperity of the community.
The EU issues legislation in the form of Regulations or Directives aimed at Member States. These Directives are later transposed into national legislation. The most important piece of EU waste legislation is the Waste Framework Directive, which is currently in the process of being updated to reflect the updated objectives of the EU's Thematic Strategy. The EU has also a wide ranging body of other Directives that address particular waste streams, such as packaging waste, end-of-life vehicles, batteries, waste electrical and electronic goods, etc and also other Directives addressing specific waste management options such as landfilling and incineration. The whole body of EU legislation has been transposed into national legislation.
This webpage provides links to all the text of all the EU and National waste management legislation.
European Waste Codes (EWC) - The whole list can be found in the consolidated text of Commission Decision 2000/532/EC, and a further amendment as per Commission Decision 2014/955/EU. [Consolidated version]​
The European Union's main strategic document guiding community waste management policy is the Thematic Strategy on the Prevention and Recycling of Waste, which was recently drafted and endorsed by the Council. This Thematic Strategy includes an assessment of existing Community waste policy in relation to prevention and recycling and focuses on the means to promote more sustainable waste management, by minimising the environmental impacts of waste, while also taking into account economic and social considerations. It aims at developing a comprehensive strategy which includes waste prevention targets and measures needed to achieve them, and also investigates ways to promote waste recycling where potential environmental benefits exists and analyses options to achieve recycling objectives in the most cost-effective way possible. The formulation of all EU legislation in the waste management sector is guided by this Thematic Strategy. All Member States of the European Union are required to prepare a national waste management plan that sets out a vision for the future, and the actions that need to be taken to achieve it. Malta's strategic waste management plan was published in 2001 in the form of the document A Solid Waste Management Strategy for the Maltese Islands. The overall purpose of this document is to provide a policy and decision-making framework for the future management of wastes, and for the preparation of detailed implementation plans. Currently this plan is in the process of being updated. The process for the preparation of detailed implementation plans is also underway. The detailed text of the EU and National strategic waste planning documents is provided in this website. This website also contains other waste stream specific national plans. The Waste Management Subject Plan "Space for Waste" was prepared by Environs Aspinwall in collaboration with the Planning Authority, in consultation with a number of key players. It identified the need for sustainable waste management practice based on the waste management hierarchy, and to upgrade waste management infrastructure. Best Practical Environmental Option (BPEO) and Best Available Technique (BAT) should be adopted in waste management developments according to the Plan. Moreover, Malta should aim toward self-sufficiency in waste management capacity. The plan points out that Malta needs to address the issue of dumping at sea, and to improve the development control regime, including environmental safeguards. It also promotes landscaping, restoration and aftercare of all waste management facilities. The Plan includes a total of 36 policies aimed at achieving these goals both at a strategic and development control level. The Structure Plan will adopt the Strategy proposed by this Plan.