Is it waste or a by-product? Revision of the waste framework directive

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The EU is revising its waste framework directive, which has the aim of reducing waste by preventing its generation. Reusing waste has been classified as the next-best alternative, recycling as third-best, energy recovery as fourth-best and landfills as the least desirable option.

The forest industry is concerned especially about the flexibility of interpreting the classification. “If it is followed exactly, the sludge created in pulp and paper manufacturing should be composted because recycling has been determined as more favourable than energy use, making it the primary means of use of sludge. From a broader environmental perspective, however, it is better to burn the sludge, which contains wood fibres, to generate bioenergy and reduce the need for fossil fuels. On the other hand, using recovered paper as a raw material for paper to as great an extent as possible most often makes more sense than burning,” says Fredrik Blomfelt, Senior Advisor on environment affairs with the Finnish Forest Industries Federation.    

“Through revising the waste framework directive, the EU is attempting to cut down on the generation of waste and to promote the recycling of waste materials and by-products. From the forest industry’s point of view, it would be important that the definition of what constitutes a waste is clarified with respect to, for example, recovered paper and that the prerequisites for productising different waste types, such as ash, are improved. For the forest industry, recovered paper is a vital raw material and not a waste,” Blomfelt points out.

The proposed revision of the waste framework directive will be deliberated in a codecision procedure of the European Parliament and the Council of Europe. Its first reading at a plenary session of the European Parliament is scheduled for February 2007.

For more information, please contact:

Fredrik Blomfelt, Senior Advisor, Environment, Finnish Forest Industries Federation, tel. +358 40 705 7389