Sweden to halve waste landfilling by 2005

Law proposed to ban landfilling of organic, combustible wastes, extend producer responsibility

The Swedish government today proposed a new law designed to keep the country at the cutting edge of waste policy in the European Union. The draft bill would ban landfilling of certain types of waste, tighten waste management controls and extend producer responsibility for electronics, construction and office paper wastes.

Drafted by the environment ministry, the "draft bill on the treatment of used goods in a sustainable manner" will be reviewed by the Legal Council before going to the Swedish parliament later this year. According to the environment ministry, the law - and a new waste tax - will halve by 2005 the amount of household and general industrial waste landfilled in Sweden.

"We believe that this is a large step in recycling and waste management," Nina Cromnier of the Swedish environment ministry told ENDS Daily. "We are taking a firmer grip on waste and used products, and trying more and more to use waste as a material."

The main aim of the measure is to divert waste from landfills to recycling and other treatments. It proposes requiring all households and companies to sort combustible waste for separate collection by 2002. In the same year, a ban on landfilling of combustible wastes would enter into force.

The measure also proposes prohibiting the landfilling of all organic wastes by 2005. Not only household wastes, but also sludges from municipal wastewater treatment, would be covered.

Specific producer responsibility rules are envisaged for three waste streams: electrical and electronics waste, construction and demolition waste and office papers. Sweden's official Ecocycle Commission proposed such a move for electronics and construction waste in 1996. The draft bill incorporates most of its proposals for these waste streams, described by the environment ministry as "large and environmentally important".

Under the proposal, all electronics waste would be dismantled by licensed dismantlers. Building demolishers would have to make special plans for dealing with hazardous substances, such as PCBs, and would have to sort them from other wastes. Half of all office papers would be required to be recycled by 2000, rising to 75% in the - unspecified - longer term.

The draft bill also proposes to tighten controls on hazardous industrial wastes. Landfilling would be banned in 2005, although the Environmental Protection Agency would have the power to make exemptions in special cases.

Other proposals include the introduction of permitting requirements for all waste transporters, and restrictions on the power of local authorities to take responsibility for managing non-hazardous industrial wastes.

Follow Up:
Swedish environment ministry , tel: +46 8 405 1000.

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