The Waste Framework Directive approved in 2008 includes a specific procedure in its article 6, whereby certain wastes that fulfil a series of characteristics may cease to be considered as such. This requires the European Commission to conduct a case-by-case study and develop certain specific criteria for each waste subject to this procedure.
Discussions were held in 2010 within the Commission on the draft criteria for declassifying ferrous scrap. This regulatory document will have a significant impact on the steel manufacturing industry, from both an economic and a legal perspective. UNESID made a considerable effort in 2010 to analyse all the possible repercussions that this new status could imply, both for the management of ferrous scrap and for the steel manufacturing sector itself.
The various meetings held between UNESID and the Minister of the Environment and Rural and Marine Affairs addressed several issues of concern for the authorities, such as the possible loss of recycling accounting or problems associated with exports and imports involving third-party countries.
Throughout 2010, UNESID sought to convey its position on the proposed criteria to the authorities both in Spain and in Europe, stressing that these new regulations should not administratively burden or compromise the import of scrap, of vital importance to the steel manufacturing sector in Spain. Furthermore, of special concern for the sector is also the possible interaction between this regulation and the REACH regulation, in the case of scrap imports. UNESID understands that the criteria should focus on operational convenience, with straightforward and realistic verification, avoiding double regulation and double control. The sector also sought to explain that the process for developing the End-of-Waste criteria was being undertaken too quickly and generating many unresolved grey areas, whose ramifications and implications might be serious and irreversible. In view of all this, UNESID insisted that a more thorough study needed to be conducted on the consequences of this new proposal, reconsidering the matter and putting forward alternatives for ferrous scrap, such as the possible introduction of a specific system within the regulatory framework on wastes that facilitates their management, minimising risk and legal uncertainties.
Finally, on 10 December 2010, the draft criteria on End-of-Waste were approved by the EU Council, with Spain abstaining. Following this procedure, the Council has proceeded to submit the proposal to the Parliament, which has until 10 February to study it and make any objections it deems appropriate. The regulation is expected to be approved and published in the first quarter of 2011.
Almost all the steel mills announced their intention of becoming ferrous waste managers in 2011, given the uncertainties involved in the application of the regulation if it is approved in its present draft.
On 18 June, the first draft of the Act on Wastes and Contaminated Soils, which transposes the Waste Framework Directive 98/2008/EC, was presented for public comment. After studying the Act, UNESID compiled a series of observations that it submitted to the CEOE business association and the Ministry of the Environment and Rural and Marine Affairs. The key aspects addressed were by-products, end-of-waste and the arrangement of insurance in management operations. Other aspects discussed were the focus and development of extended producer responsibility, waste prevention measures and promoting the use of by-products.
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