Hazardous waste

Workers remove asbestos roof sheetsClick to enlarge
Asbestos is a hazardous waste
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The term “hazardous waste” refers to various types of waste with defined hazardous properties that are harmful for the environment and/or human health. Hazardous waste must be handled using special techniques and processes that ensure safe and environmentally sound disposal by elimination of the hazardous substances contained in the waste.

Definition, quantities and destination

In Germany certain types of waste with hazardous properties are sometimes reffered to as “Sondermüll” (meaning ‘special waste’), a term for which no clear legal definition exists in German law.

Hazardous waste classification

Classifying waste according to its hazardousness is an essential element of waste management, as such classifications determine the waste treatment methods and the supporting waste documentation. In the EU, waste designations and classifications are governed by Commission Decision 2000/532/EC (European  Waste List, EWL) where all wastes that are classified as hazardous have an asterisk next to their waste identification code. Apart from hazardous and non-hazardous wastes, the EWL also contains so called mirror entries for waste streams where the hazard criterion is decisive from a legal point of view depending on hazardous substance concentration or hazard properties.
Annex III  to the Directive 2008/98/EC (Waste Framework Directive) defines 15 hazard criteria (H-criteria) that specify the hazardousness of mirror entries.  The EWL lays down concentration limits for certain hazard criteria. The classifications for the applicable hazard-criteria limit values can be found here (in German).
The EWL concentration limits are based on chemicals regulation: Directives 67/548/EEC (Dangerous Substances Directive) and 1999/45/EC (Dangerous Preparations Directive), both of which were superseded in 2008 by Regulation No 1272/2008/EC (CLP - Classification, Labeling and Packaging Regulation). The EWL is currently being revised and updated, in light of changes in chemical regulations. The UBA is closely involved in this process and has submitted recommended changes in the EWL to the EU.

Handling hazardous substances

Pursuant to Paragraph 47(1) of the Waste Management Act (KrWG), waste prevention and management fall under the jurisdiction of the competent Federal State authorities. In Federal States that impose delivery and handover obligations for hazardous waste, the waste-generating entity is required to notify to local authorities (a) the type, quantity and composition of the waste in question; and (b) the envisaged disposal facility. The authorities then assign the waste to a suitable facility. Disposal techniques can vary greatly from one type of waste to another, as can the applicable regulations. This applies to the disposal of waste containing hazardous substances such as asbestos, or persistent organic pollutants (POPs) such as PCBs and mercury.

Ordinance on Waste Recovery and Disposal Records (Nachweisverordnung)

The Ordinance on Waste Recovery and Disposal Records (of 2002, as amended) governs monitoring and supervision of hazardous-waste recovery and disposal. The supervision is carried out via documents known as Waste Recovery and Disposal Record (Entsorgungsnachweis), Transport Form (Begleitschein) and Transfer Receipt (Übernahmeschein). A Waste Recovery and Disposal Record allows for prior permission – by the waste producing entity, the waste disposal entity and the competent authority – that a given disposal technique is environmentally sound. The Transport Forms and Transfer Receipts (Übernahmescheine)  allow for documentation, via acknowledgement , that a previously validated disposal technique has been adhered to for each individual instance of waste transport. Consent by the competent authotioty can be foregone for waste that is disposed of by a disposal company that is certified in accordance with the Ordinance on Specialised Waste Management Companies. The Transport Form proof procedure is carried out electronically in the Federal States. The Ordinance on on Waste Recovery and Disposal Records lays down simplified rules for supporting documentation for small quantities of waste, whereby household wastes are not subject to such documentation rules.

Hazardous-waste quantities and destination

Transport Forms used in the proof procedure are evaluated for statistics gathering purposes, whereby the competent authorities are legally required to submit information in this regard to government statistics offices. In this process, no statistics are gathered concerning waste disposal within a given enterprise or for transfrontier waste shipments, as these statistics are gathered separately. For hazardous waste statistics see under “Waste statistics”.

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