New Law on Waste and Contaminated Soil
The BOE published on 9 April the new Law 7/2022 of 8 April on waste and contaminated land for a circular economy. The document prioritises the prevention and reduction of waste generation to protect the environment and human health, and to effect the transition to a circular and low-carbon economy with innovative and sustainable business models, products and materials. The document also focuses on preventing and reducing the impact of certain plastic products on human health and the environment, with a particular focus on the aquatic environment.
The Law transposes into Spanish law Directive (EU) 2018/851 of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2008/98/EC on waste, as well as Directive (EU) 2019/904 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 June 2019 on the reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment. It also expressly repeals Law 22/2011 on waste and contaminated land, which had been in force for 20 years. The law incorporates a wide range of measures. The most significant of these are listed in this document, grouped by blocks:
The main actions included in the law to prioritise waste prevention are:
- General objective of reducing the weight of waste generated by 13% by 2025 and 15% by 2030, compared to 2010 figures.
- Hotel and catering sector: establishments will have to offer the possibility of consuming unpackaged water free of charge to their customers.
- Producers of hazardous waste: obligation to draw up a waste minimisation plan, unless they generate less than 10 tonnes/year per site or have an EMAS environmental management certificate.
- Food retail outlets with a floor area of more than 400m2 must have at least 20% of their floor area available for sale in bulk or reusable packaging by 1 January 2023.
- Establishments selling fresh produce, cooked food or beverages: must accept the use of reusable containers (bags, bottles, etc.) by consumers.
- Ban on sending surplus toys, textiles or electronics to landfill.
Production and possession of waste
Waste producers or holders are responsible for the complete treatment of their waste, and are obliged to document and maintain traceability of the entire process. The document establishes general and other specific requirements for waste producers or holders depending on the type of waste they manage (hazardous, non-hazardous, domestic or commercial), among which the following stand out:
- Producers and managers of hazardous waste: obligation to draw up and send an annual report to the Autonomous Community by 31 March.
- Producers of non-hazardous waste of more than 10 tonnes per year and companies that generate by-products: obligation to keep a chronological file with information on the waste up to its final destination.
- Producers of hazardous waste or producers of more than 1000 tonnes/year of non-hazardous waste: request for prior authorisation for the start of the activity to the corresponding Autonomous Community.
In addition, the Government may establish that certain sectors of activity implement the concept of extended responsibility, transferring the cost of waste management to producers to promote prevention, reuse and recycling. Some sectors already have such systems in place (e.g. Ecoembes, Ecovidrio). The law establishes that within three years they must also be implemented for textiles, furniture/ensensures and agricultural plastics.
The law lays down certain requirements for organisations and companies involved in the collection, transport and treatment of waste, i.e. those organisations known as waste managers. The main obligations are:
- Application for prior authorisation for the start of the activity to the corresponding Autonomous Community.
- Specific requirements for storage, identification and packaging of waste.
- Deposit and insurance or financial guarantee for establishments that manage hazardous waste.
Separate waste collection by local entities
The document establishes a schedule for the separate collection of new waste fractions under local jurisdiction in order to promote reuse and recycling. Specifically, the law refers to bio-waste (30 June 2022 for municipalities with more than 50,000 inhabitants and 31 December 2023 for other municipalities), textile waste, used cooking oils, hazardous household waste and bulky waste. Minimum targets are also set for separate collection and for reuse, recycling and recovery.
Restrictions on single-use plastics
The main measures adopted in relation to single-use plastics, in line with Directive (EU)2019/904, are:
- Weight reduction targets for beverage cups and caps and food containers.
- Ban on the placing on the market of certain single-use plastics such as swabs, cutlery, plates, straws, balloon sticks, etc.
- Establishment of eco-design requirements for beverage bottles up to 3 litres capacity (container and caps/caps).
- Incorporation of marking requirements for certain single-use plastic products such as wet wipes, sanitary towels, tampons, beverage cups, etc.
- Separate collection targets for plastic bottles up to 3 litres capacity. The law specifies that if these targets are not met within two years, a deposit, return and refund system must be implemented, i.e. the customer would be charged for each container purchased, which would be recovered on return.
- The new measures related to contaminated land are: Obligation for natural or legal persons owning land to declare whether or not any potentially soil-polluting activity has been carried out on the land, in the event of transfer or new construction work.
- A period of no more than 3 years to decontaminate and recover contaminated soil.
- Incorporation of a declaration of contaminated land in a marginal note in the Land Registry, at the initiative of the Autonomous Community. Subsequent cancellation of the note if the land is no longer considered as such.
The regulation also contemplates a series of fiscal measures, which, given their novelty and relevance, are also published in a separate article in this AddNEWS.
ECOGESA, a company of the AddVANTE Group specialising in the environment and sustainability, is at your disposal to provide further information or clarify any details related to the publication of this new law on waste and contaminated land.