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The legal definition of waste

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The term “waste” is polysemous insofar as it has several meanings both in everyday language and in the legal context.

The main legal definitions of waste

Waste is an object, substance or material; no longer wanting exercise a property right, its holder intends it to be abandoned because it assigns a negative value. What underlies the passage from something to the state of waste is explained by human decision. Also some law relating to waste disposal and recovery of materials, amended by another law relating to the elimination of waste as well as at classified installations, provides that waste consists of “any residue from a production, transformation or of use, any substance, material, product or more generally, any good, abandoned furniture or that its recipient intends to abandon.

For the European Union, the legal framework considers waste to be “any substance or object that the holder discards or the obligation to dispose of under the national provisions in force “.

But, it does not make any particular modification except for listing 16 categories of substances or objects to be considered as waste: production or consumption residues not specified below, products outside standards; expired products; Materials accidentally spilled, lost or having suffered any other accident, including any material, equipment, etc., contaminated as a result of the incident in question; materials contaminated or soiled as a result of voluntary activities (for example, residues from cleaning operations, packaging materials, containers, etc.); elements unusable (eg spent batteries, exhausted catalysts, etc.); substances that become unsuitable for use (for example, contaminated acids, contaminated solvents, quenching salts exhausted, etc.); residues from industrial processes (e.g. slag, still bottoms, etc.); residues from anti-pollution processes (for example, gas scrubbing sludge, dust from air filter, worn filters, etc.); machining / shaping residues (for example, turning chips or milling, etc.); residues from the extraction and preparation of raw materials (for example, mining or petroleum exploitation residues, etc.); contaminated material (by eg oils contaminated with PCBs, etc.); any material, substance or product of which the use is prohibited by law; products that have no or no longer use for the holder (for example, articles discarded by agriculture, households, offices, shops, workshops, etc.); contaminated materials, substances or products from reclamation activities of land; any material, substance or product that is not covered by the above categories.

Waste management definitions

Among these categories, they distinguish the substances of residues resulting from industrial, others become unfit for consumption because contaminated during their use, consumption or simply by chance or because they no longer meet certain required standards. For US companies like Pensacola dumpster rental for example, waste is anything that ends up in the landfil.

For the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) “Waste is the material, other than radioactive material, called to be eliminated or treated by reasons and according to a process of specific elimination.”

For three years the OECD has worked on the harmonization of these definitions in member countries. The fruit of this work resulted in a simple document of summary which includes the different definitions, but none unanimously. Also, it turns out to be impossible to impose a universal definition of waste. In Belgium, for example, it is “any matter or object that its owner discards, intends or is compelled to discard “.

It is true that in Belgium with regard to the exported production of waste, we end up with an observation to say the least heavy when one refers to figures which are sufficient to give a scale of the phenomenon: for example, in 2018, 645,636 tonnes of waste was exported against 21,126 for France and 108,466 for the United States.

As exportable waste, we can take the example of waste nuclear products that are processed in factories established in countries that accept this type of waste (La Hague plant in France). In Switzerland, waste is transportable materials that their owner discards or that must be discarded in the public interest.

Each country therefore has its own definition and does not want to change it in the as soon as a product becomes waste, it must face legislation strict and restrictive whether in terms of its transport or its disposal. So, take the example of pig manure which in the Netherlands is produced in large quantities quantity and of which their surplus, as products, are intended for export.

But, if the slurry is exported to countries, in particular France or Belgium, where the legislation is strict, it will not escape this regulation since the country has equipped with a slurry plan. The fact remains that the nitrate content which constitutes a potentially polluting element must not exceed the required threshold, this is the sine qua non for its export.

Obviously, the definitions listed give rise to two notions: the notion of the relativity of a waste and that of the obligation to eliminate it.

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