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‘No negative impact’ from end-of-waste for metals

Europe – EU end-of-waste (EoW) rules governing scrap from iron and steel, aluminium and aluminium alloys have had no negative effects either on the market or on the environment, concludes a study by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) into impacts on scrap availability, trade flows, prices, administrative requirements and environment or human health.

The review, based on a survey of 250 companies, 15 industry associations and 25 national authorities, shows that more than 1100 scrap companies are already using the end-of-waste criteria in Europe. Over 40% of participants felt that quality on the market had improved for all scrap and particularly for EoW-compliant scrap, mainly due to ‘the strict rules on maximum contamination and the wider introduction of quality management systems’.

Uptake has been most pronounced in Italy where over 1000 scrap companies generate EoW-compliant scrap – partly due to a similar legal framework on secondary raw materials that preceded the introduction of the new Europe-wide EoW criteria. This means uptake has been relatively ‘modest’ to date in the rest of Europe, although significant industry interest has been recorded in the UK, the Netherlands and Spain.

The JRC study estimates that at least 15% of EU scrap steel consumption and 10% of scrap aluminium is EoW-compliant. ‘Importantly,’ says the report, ‘neither the results from the surveys nor the feedback from an expert workshop have indicated that end-of-waste had, so far, caused any negative impacts on the market, whether that is to scrap quality, availability/trade or upon the environment.

On the contrary, quite a number of the survey participants have highlighted the benefits of the introduction of end-of-waste for metal scrap.’ The identified benefits include: a simplified regulatory framework with relation to the reduction of the impacts of waste legislation, such as no longer needing to obtain waste permits and licences; greater flexibility and legal certainty for companies, allowing a clear choice between operating under waste legislation or under the end-of-waste framework; and improving the quality of scrap, leading to a perceived increase in the prices for scrap of approximately 1%.

However, some companies have reported that the costs of achieving end-of-waste compliance have outweighed the benefits – for example, regarding Quality Management System (QMS) certification and the technical recycling process to reduce contamination levels. Coming into force in 2011, it was EU Regulation 333 that established criteria by which scrap from iron and steel, aluminium and aluminium alloys could cease to be regulated as waste.

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