PROWASTE - Landfill directive

The Landfill Directive, more formally known as the’ Council Directive 1999/31/EC of 26 April 1999 on the landfill of waste’,  is a EU directive with the overall aim to prevent or reduce as far as possible negative effects on the environment. It is particularly focused on the pollution of surface water, groundwater, soil and air, and on the global environment including the greenhouse effect, as well as any resulting risk to human health from the landfilling of waste during the whole life-cycle of the landfill. This legislation also has important implications for waste handling and waste disposal. The Directive entered into force in 1999, and the deadline for implementation of the legislation in the Member States was two years later.

The directive defines the different categories of waste (municipal waste, hazardous waste, non-hazardous waste and inert waste), and landfills are divided into three classes:

  • landfills for hazardous waste;
  • landfills for non-hazardous waste;
  • landfills for inert waste.

The directive applies to all landfills, defined as waste disposal sites for the deposit of waste onto or into land. However, there are some areas which it does not apply to, for instance the spreading on the soil of sludges. A standard waste acceptance procedure for landfills is laid down to avoid any risks:

  • waste must be treated before being landfilled;
  • hazardous waste within the meaning of the Directive must be assigned to a hazardous waste landfill;
  • landfills for non-hazardous waste must be used for municipal waste and for non-hazardous waste;
  • landfill sites for inert waste must be used only for inert waste;
  • criteria for the acceptance of waste at each landfill class must be adopted by the Commission in accordance with general principles.

According to the directive, the following wastes are not to be accepted in a landfill: liquid, flammable, explosive or oxidising waste, infectious waste from hospitals and other clinical waste, used tyres (with some exceptions).

The directive also sets up a system of operating permits for landfill sites, and member states must ensure that existing landfill sites may not continue to operate unless they comply with the provisions of the Directive as soon as possible. Member States must also report to the Commission every three years on the implementation of the Directive.

European Commission: Council Directive 1999/31/EC of 26 April 1999 on the landfill of waste