The Waste Regulations, S.L. 549.63 provide a framework to protect the environment and human health by preventing or reducing the generation of waste, the adverse impacts of the generation and management of waste and by reducing overall impacts of resource use and improving the efficiency of such use, which are crucial for the transition to a circular economy.
The Waste Regulations set the basic concepts and definitions related to waste management as well as portray the main waste management principles such as:
- The waste hierarchy;
- The polluter pays principle;
- Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR);
- When waste ceases to be waste to become a secondary raw material (end-of-waste criteria);
- How to distinguish between waste and by-products;
- The list of waste;
- Hazardous waste;
- The difference between municipal waste, household waste and biowaste;
- Waste Management Plan.
The waste hierarchy is the cornerstone of European and national waste policies and legislation, ranking waste management options in a specific order according to their environmental impact. Its primary purpose is to minimise adverse environmental effects from waste and to increase and optimise resource efficiency in waste management and policy.
- Waste prevention sits at the top of the waste hierarchy and represents the most environmentally friendly option;
- Preparing for re-use, consists on checking, cleaning or repairing components or products to be re-used without any other pre-processing;
- Recycling is any operation by which waste materials are processed into products, materials or substances for the previous or other purpose. Regeneration of oils or composting of organic waste are considered recycling operations;
- Recovery involves operations that the principal result of which is waste serving to replace other materials which would have been used to fulfil a particular option. Examples of recovery operations are incineration of waste to generate energy or backfilling of inert waste.
- Disposal operations are those which are not recovery for example. Under these category are include a number of operations, such as landfilling of waste, incineration without energy recovery or disposal at sea.
According to the Waste Regulations, any facility carrying out any waste management operations should be permitted by the Environment & Resources Authority, while, as per Regulation 27, waste carriers and brokers should be registered with the Authority.