End of Waste: what is it and which are the applications

What is End of Waste?

The concept of End of Waste (EoW) can be described as the process through which waste ceases to be such through recovery procedures and instead acquires the status of a product.

In the Italian legal system, the notion of waste has undergone numerous evolutions up to the current formulation, contained in Article 183, paragraph 1, lett. a), Legislative Decree 03.04.2006, no. 152, which defines it as “any substance or object which the holder discards or intends or is obliged to discard.” However, there are cases in which, although there is an intention to discard it, a substance, legally, does not fall into the category of waste or loses this status. The latter condition has its own specific discipline: termination of waste status, or End of Waste.

The notion of End of Waste originated at the EU level with the Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC). Specifically, Article 6 states that “a waste ceases to be waste when it undergoes a recovery operation, including recycling.”

They must also meet specific criteria to be developed in accordance with the following conditions:

  • • the substance or object is commonly used/used for specific purposes;
  • • there is a market or demand for that substance or object;
  • • the substance or object meets the technical requirements for the specific purposes and complies with existing regulations and standards applicable to the products;
  • • the use of the substance or object will not lead to overall adverse impacts on the environment or human health.

Such definition is taken up in Italian law in Article 184-ter, paragraph 1, Legislative Decree No. 152/2006.

Wastes can become new products or materials if they fall under the regulation of EU Regulations. As in the case of scrap iron, steel and aluminum (Regulation No. 333/2011), glass (Regulation No. 1179/2012) and copper (Regulation No. 715/2013).

Or, in the absence of these, it is the individual European states that provide their own acts. In Italy, since 2010 it has been the Ministry of the Environment that decrees the end-of-waste, in compliance with the conditions defined by Europe.

End of Waste from Scrap Iron

Recovery operations for the purpose of obtaining End of Waste from ferrous metal waste, such as iron and steel scrap, must always be authorized by the appropriate body. In addition, these must comply with the technical and management requirements of EU Reg. No. 333/2011 (which applies to waste consisting of iron and steel scrap and aluminum scrap).

Compliance with the requirements is demonstrated by obtaining certification from a third-party body that can attest to the compliance of the quality management system with the aforementioned Regulation. Thus, it is necessary to equip the company with procedures and operating methods that can certify compliance with the requirements and provide declarations of conformity of the material produced (no longer waste). The resulting benefit is the increased possibility of bringing metals to production cycles and substituting virgin raw material.

End of Waste from paper and cardboard

Unlike those concerning metallic waste, the recovery operations of paper and cardboard waste for the purpose of End of Waste have Ministerial Decree No. 188/2020 as a regulatory reference and European Standard UNI EN 643:2014 as a qualitative reference. The wastes allowed in the recovery cycle are diverse: these include paper and cardboard from separate collection, or production waste from the paper industry.

As a rule, the recovery activities are manual and mechanical sorting of the waste in order to eliminate as much as possible “non-paper components” and “prohibited materials” followed by baling. Recovered paper and cardboard for End of Waste purposes, if it complies with the requirements set out in the above-mentioned standard, can be qualified as “recovered paper and cardboard” and destined for the paper industry or for industries that use it as raw material.

In this case, too, certification of a quality system attesting to compliance with the requirements of the Ministerial Decree is required through internal procedures and controls that attest to the process and the material produced.

End of Waste and Circular Economy

For the development of the Circular Economy, recycling is a key activity because it concretely means turning waste into a resource, replacing some raw materials with secondary materials.

With this in mind, incentivizing the End of Waste process certainly helps in contributing to the spread of Circular Economy principles. As anticipated, the concept of End of Waste refers specifically to the moment when a waste ceases to be a waste, through recovery procedures, and acquires the status of a usable resource or product. At that point, matter is obtained that, meeting certain quality and safety criteria, can be reintegrated into the production cycle instead of being disposed of.

It is through this process that materials such as coal, pet-coke, and natural gas can be replaced with waste transformed into Secondary Solid Fuel (CSS): raw materials such as silicon or its oxides or inert waste, can be replaced with waste slag, and treated foundry slag can become construction material. From electronic and electrical waste, then, it is possible to obtain Secondary Raw Materials (such as cobalt, lithium, phosphorus, and copper) that, otherwise, we would always be forced to import from nations that are potentially careless about protecting human rights and the environment.

The benefits of End of Waste

Industry, society, and regulators can reap significant benefits from achieving End of Waste. The use of materials derived from waste reduces the need to exploit primary resources, as well as diverting waste from landfills or incineration. This can reduce local environmental impacts, such as impacts on the environment from mining and refining, and global environmental impacts, including greenhouse gas emissions. All of this can lead to several benefits:

  • • End of Waste status creates a positive perception of recovered materials, eliminating the “stigma” of waste that can discourage potential customers.
  • • A positive perception encourages the development of sustainable secondary markets and confidence in recovered secondary materials. This supports their economic value, allowing industry to further innovate in new products derived from waste and thus further increase the beneficial use of waste.
  • • End of Waste criteria allow the moment when a material ceases to be classified as waste to be brought forward to the moment when it is recovered. In this way, the material can be marketed as a “product” on a par with products not derived from waste.
  • • Industry benefits from reduced administrative burdens for waste management.

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Emma Salioni

WIth a degree in Digital content management for media, enterprises and cultural heritage, Emma Salioni has always had a strong interest in sustainability and circularity. After a period of time spent workin in The Netherlands, she started working with Tondo managing social media and communication, as well as supporting the organization of hackathons and events.