The Waste Incineration Directive
Summary of Directive 2000/76/EC on the incineration of waste (the WI Directive)
The WI Directive entered into force on 28 December 2000. It repealed former directives on the incineration of hazardous waste (Directive 94/67/EC) and household waste (Directives 89/369/EEC and 89/429/EEC) and replaced them with a single text. The aim of the WI Directive is to prevent or to reduce as far as possible negative effects on the environment caused by the incineration and co-incineration of waste. In particular, it should reduce pollution caused by emissions into the air, soil, surface water and groundwater, and thus lessen the risks which these pose to human health.
This is to be achieved through the application of operational conditions, technical requirements, and emission limit values for incineration and co-incineration plants within the EU.
The WI Directive sets emission limit values and monitoring requirements for pollutants to air such as dust, nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur dioxide (SO2), hydrogen chloride (HCl), hydrogen fluoride (HF), heavy metals and dioxins and furans. The Directive also sets controls on releases to water resulting from the treatment of the waste gases. Most types of waste incineration plants fall within the scope of the WI Directive, with some exceptions, such as those treating only biomass (e.g. vegetable waste from agriculture and forestry). Experimental plants with a limited capacity used for research and development of improved incineration processes are also excluded.
The WI Directive makes a distinction between:
a) incineration plants (which are dedicated to the thermal treatment of waste and may or may not recover heat generated by combustion) and
b) co-incineration plants (such as cement or lime kilns, steel plants or power plants whose main purpose is energy generation or the production of material products and in which waste is used as a fuel or is thermally treated for the purpose of disposal).
The WI Directive provides for public consultation, access to information and participation in the permitting procedure.
Transposition into national legislation was necessary by 28 December 2002. From this date on new incinerators have had to comply with the provisions of the WI Directive. The deadline to bring existing plants into compliance was 28 December 2005.