Waste

July 9th, 2019

The European Court Judgment in Case C-624/17, Tronex BV, concerns the concepts of “waste” and “shipment of waste”. The Court said:-

“16      Regarding the concept of ‘waste’, it should be borne in mind that Article 3(1) of Directive 2008/98 defines it as any substance or object which the holder discards or intends or is required to discard…

17      In accordance with the Court’s settled case-law, the classification of a substance or object as waste is to be inferred primarily from the holder’s actions and the meaning of the term ‘discard’…

18      As regards the meaning of the term ‘discard’, it also follows from the Court’s settled case-law that that term must be interpreted in the light of the aim of Directive 2008/98, which, in the words of recital 6 thereof, is to minimise the negative effects of the generation and management of waste on human health and the environment, having regard to Article 191(2) TFEU, which provides that EU policy on the environment is to aim at a high level of protection and is to be based, in particular, on the precautionary principle and the principle that preventive action should be taken. It follows that the term ‘discard’, and therefore the concept of ‘waste’ within the meaning of Article 3(1) of Directive 2008/98, cannot be interpreted restrictively…

19      It is apparent from the provisions of Directive 2008/98 that the term ‘discard’ covers both recovery and disposal of a substance or object, within the meaning of Article 3(15) and (19) of that directive…

20      More specifically, the existence of ‘waste’, within the meaning of Directive 2008/98, must be determined in the light of all the circumstances, regard being had to the aim of that directive and the need to ensure that its effectiveness is not undermined …

21      Thus, certain circumstances may constitute evidence that a substance or object has been discarded or of an intention or requirement to discard it within the meaning of Article 3(1) of Directive 2008/98…

22      Particular attention must be paid to the fact that the object or substance in question is not or is no longer of any use to its holder, such that that object or substance constitutes a burden which he will seek to discard. If that is indeed the case, there is a risk that the holder will dispose of the object or substance in his possession in a way likely to cause harm to the environment, particularly by dumping it or disposing of it in an uncontrolled manner. That object or substance, because it falls within the concept of ‘waste’ within the meaning of Directive 2008/98, is subject to the provisions of that directive, which means that the recovery or disposal of that object or substance must be carried out in such a way that human health is not endangered and without using processes or methods likely to harm the environment…

23        In that regard, the degree of probability that goods, a substance or a product will be reused without a prior processing operation constitutes a criterion relevant to assessing whether or not they constitute waste within the meaning of Directive 2008/98. If, beyond the mere possibility of reusing the goods, substance or product in question, there is also a financial advantage for the holder in so doing, the likelihood of such reuse is high. In such circumstances, the goods, substance or product in question must no longer be regarded as a burden which its holder seeks to ‘discard’, but as a genuine product …

24        It would not be justified at all to make goods, substances or products which the holder intends to exploit or market on economically advantageous terms in a subsequent recovery process subject to the requirements of Directive 2008/98, which seek to ensure that recovery and disposal operations will be carried out without endangering human health and without using processes or methods which could harm the environment. However, having regard to the requirement to interpret the concept of ‘waste’ widely, it is only situations in which the reuse of the goods or substance in question is not a mere possibility but a certainty that are envisaged, …”

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