What is waste?

Waste:  Any substance or object the owner of which disposes of, or has the intention or obligation of disposing of.

Domestic Waste: Waste produced in the home as a result of domestic activity. Similar waste generated in services and industry is also considered to be domestic waste. This category also includes waste electrical and electronic consumer appliances, clothing, batteries, hot water tanks, furniture and fixtures, as well as waste and rubble produced from minor construction works and household repairs.

Commercial Waste: Waste generated as a result of the activities of a business -wholesalers and retailers, hospitality, offices and markets – and the rest of the services sector.

Industrial Waste: Waste arising from the manufacturing, processing, use, consumption, cleaning and / or maintenance processes as part of industrial activities. Emissions to the atmosphere regulated under Law 34/2007 (15th November) are excluded.

Hazardous Waste: Waste which has one or more of the hazardous characteristics listed in annex II of Law 22/2011 on Waste and Contaminated Land – and those which the Spanish Government may approve in compliance with that established in EU legislation or in international treaties to which Spain is part – as well as the containers and packaging which have been used for their storage.

European List of Waste (LoW): Harmonized classification of Waste, revised periodically. Waste the various types of waste are classified using a six digit code for waste made up of two digits for the respective chapter and four for the subchapter. The chapters and subchapters define the types of activity which generates the waste.

What are EEE and WEEE?

Electrical and Electronic Equipment (EEE): All appliances which require an electrical current or electromagnetic field to function, and the equipment required to generate, transmit and measure said currents and fields which are designed to be used with a rated voltage of no greater than 1000 volts (AC) or 1500 volts (DC).

Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE): All electrical and electronic appliances which become waste when their owner disposes of them, or when they have the intention or obligation of disposing of them. This definition covers all components, subcomponents and consumables which form part of the appliance at the time of its disposal.

How many types of WEEE are there? In accordance with Royal Decree 110/2015, the following classifications for WEEE exist:

  • Large domestic appliances.
  • Small domestic appliances.
  • ICT equipment and devices.
  • Consumer electronics and photovoltaic (solar) panels.
  • Lighting equipment (with the exception of domestic lighting).
  • Electric and electronic tools.
  • Toys, sport and leisure goods.
  • Health products.
  • Surveillance and control systems.
  • Vending machines.

How is WEEE managed?

Waste electrical and electronic equipment is managed in accordance with Royal Decree 110/2015 (20th February) which sets out the obligations of manufacturers of these appliances as well as distributors, citizens and public administrations.

Applying the principles of hierarchy of waste, priority is given to the preparation of the WEEE, their components, sub-sets and consumables for re-use.

What documentation is required for transporting waste?

Identification document: The document which identifies the waste and which must accompany it during transport. The content of this document is set out in annex I of Royal Decree 180/2015 (13th March) which regulates the transport of waste within the Spanish territory.

Waste treatment contract: The agreement between the transport company and the recipient of the waste which establishes (at a minimum) the specifications for the waste, the transport terms and conditions and each party’s obligations in the event of any incident.

How is waste management organised?

Collection: Operation involving the collection of the waste including its initial classification and storage for later transport to a treatment centre.

Separated Collection: Collection where waste is managed separately in accordance with its type and nature, to make specific treatment easier.

Transport Company: The natural or legal person who intends to or actually transports waste for treatment and who is responsible for registering this transport.

Recipient: The entity of company which will carry out the treatment process on the waste at the treatment centre.

Who is involved in the waste treatment management?

Waste producer: Any natural or legal person whose activity generates waste (primary waste producer) or any person who carries out prior treatment operations (mixing or other types) which produces a change in the nature or make up of the waste. In the event that goods are confiscated by the border control services the waste producer is considered to be the representative of the goods or the importer / exporter of them.

Waste Holder: The waste producer or any natural or legal person who is in possession of the waste.

Trader: Any natural or legal person acting on their own account in the buying and selling of waste, including those who do not take physical possession of the waste.

Agent: Any natural or legal person who arranges the valuation or elimination of waste by third parties, including those who do not take physical possession of the waste.

Waste Manager: The person or public / private entity, registered via authorization or communication, which carries out any of the operations which make up the waste management chain, whether they are the waste producer or not.

Principles of Extended Producer Liability: This signifies that the producer has a responsibility for their products beyond the moment of sale and up to the end of the product’s useful life and they remain involved in the prevention of waste generation and its management.

Extended Producer Liability System: This covers not-for-profit entities made up of electrical and electronic equipment producers whose primary objective is the creation of an organizational structure to take care of the management requirements of the WEEE.

What processes are involved in waste management?

Waste Management: The collection, transport and treatment of the waste, including the supervision of these operations, as well as the maintenance post closure of landfills, including actions performed by traders or agents.

Prevention: Set of measures adopted in the design and concept stage, in production, distribution and consumption of a substance, material or product, to reduce:

1.º The quantity of waste through re-use of the products or extending the useful life of the products.

2.º Adverse impacts of generated waste on the environment and human health, including savings in material and energy usage.

3.º The levels of harmful substances in materials and products.

Treatment: The valorisation and elimination operations, including preparatory work prior to the valorisation or elimination.

Re-use: any process which allows the products or their components to not become waste and that they can be re-used for the same purpose as that for which they were originally intended.

Recycling: Any valorisation operation which allows the waste materials to be transformed into new products, materials or substances whether to be re-used for the same purpose as their original, or for other uses. This includes the transformation of organic materials but excludes their energy valorisation and their transformation into materials which are to be used as fuel or for filler operations.

Valorization: Any operation with the primary outcome of the waste being put to use as a substitute for other materials which would otherwise have been used to fulfil a particular function, or that the waste be prepared to this end in the factory or in the wider economy. Annex II of Law 22/2011 on waste and contaminated land includes a non-exhaustive list of valorisation operations.

Preparation for re-use: Valorisation consists of checking, cleaning and repair of products or components that have become waste to prepare these items so that they can be re-used without any prior transformation.

Elimination: Any operation besides the valorisation, including where the operation has the secondary consequence of utilization of the substances or energy. Annex I of Law 22/2011 on waste and contaminated land includes a non-exhaustive list of elimination operations.