The criteria set out exactly what standards recovered iron, steel and aluminium scrap must meet to no longer be classed as waste and therefore freed from waste regulation such as the transfrontier shipment regulations which restrict waste being exported outside the EU.
And, the British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA) today (April 1) claimed they would particularly benefit the UK metals recycling sector because it exports a higher proportion of recovered material than any other EU member state.
Describing the agreement as a “landmark decision”, the BMRA director-general Ian Hetherington said: “The reclassification of processed iron, steel and aluminium scrap as a raw material is great news for the industry and lifts some unnecessarily heavy regulatory demands.
“This puts UK and European metals recyclers on a level playing field in a highly competitive global market because ferrous metals and aluminium can be transported globally as a product without falling under rules such as the EU Transfrontier Shipment of Waste Regulations.”
However, the agreement could create problems for the UK packaging recycling system, with Defra revealing last year that the criteria could undermine the principle that Packaging Waste Recovery Notes, or PRNs, can only be issued by reprocessors such as steelworks (see letsrecycle.com story).
Waste Framework Directive
The criteria are the first to be developed under the revised EU Waste Framework Directive, which was published in November 2008 (see letsrecycle.com story). Further criteria are currently being developed for copper, paper, glass and compost.
They require producers to apply a quality management system and demonstrate compliance with the criteria by a statement of conformity which must accompany each scrap metal consignment.
Treatment needed to prepare scrap for final use – such as cutting, shredding, cleaning or depollution – will have to be completed before the material can be released from waste regulation.
Commenting on the agreement, the European environment commissioner Janez Potocnik said: “We must start treating waste as a valuable resource, and the adoption today of these end-of-waste criteria for material streams will really boost our recycling industry and services.
“It marks another important step towards Europe’s goal of becoming a resource-efficient economy and a recycling society.”
The criteria will enter into force after their publication and will then become directly applicable to the UK and other EU member states six months later.