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Background and methodology
• This report has been prepared by the European Topic Centre on Waste as part of the
work programme of the European Environment Agency.
• The purpose of the report is to review existing data on hazardous waste in Europe and
assess its comparability.
• The report includes data from 15 EEA countries and two regions and follows on from an
earlier report ‘Hazardous waste generation in selected European countries’ (EEA topic
report No 14/1999).
• When comparing the generation of hazardous waste across countries, it is important that
the reported data be based on the same definitions, i.e. that a common classification is
applied. It is noted that different countries and regions apply different classification
systems when the data are originally collated.
• In order to facilitate comparison, a common waste classification has been applied. The
common classification used is the hazardous waste list, which is part of the European
waste catalogue (Commission Decision 94/3/EC).
• Data have been obtained for nearly all EEA member countries. Further improvement is
needed to increase the comparability of data between the EEA countries.
• An objective of this report was to produce a comparable dataset for the majority of EEA
member countries to provide comparable information on hazardous waste generation.
This is presently possible only for one large country, five small countries and two regions.
• One of the conclusions of the report ‘Hazardous waste generation in selected European
countries’ was that at national level, the 20 largest generated waste fractions represent
approximately 75 % of total quantity of hazardous waste generated. The ETC/W sought
information on the 20 largest fractions of hazardous waste in each country and region
surveyed to facilitate information collection from member countries. However, only
countries already using the hazardous waste list (HWL) were able to give information at
the six-digit level.
• It has proven difficult to relate hazardous waste classified according to national or
regional substance oriented classifications to the HWL and the European waste
catalogue. As stated above, only countries already registering hazardous waste according
to the HWL have given information for this survey at the six-digit level. The reason for
this is that it is difficult to obtain the required information for reclassification following
the original data collection exercise. The implementation of the HWL currently taking
place in several countries will improve the availability of comparable data.
• In each of the countries and regions examined, a relatively small number of waste types
represent a large proportion of the total hazardous waste generation. On average, the 20
largest generated waste types represent between 67 % and 93 % of the total hazardous
waste generated with an average of 75 % of hazardous waste being attributable to these
top 20 waste types in each country or region.
• National definitions of hazardous waste are not limited to the waste types included in the
HWL. When looking at the 20 largest generated waste types in each country, 74 % of the
waste types and 81 % of the waste quantities can be related directly to HWL wastes.
• 110 different waste types are included in the full list of top 20 waste types from nine
individual countries and regions. This indicates that different countries have different
hazardous waste profiles. However, it may also indicate that different countries use
different codes for the same waste type. The Commission has recently amended the
hazardous waste list with more waste types now classified as hazardous. Prior to the
amendment, between 29 % and 100 % of hazardous waste reported by countries and
regions examined could be related to HWL descriptions. Following the amendment, the
amount is between 39 % and 100 %. The average for the countries has increased from
71 % to 81 %. This means that the comparability of classification for hazardous waste in
countries and regions has slightly improved as a result of this amendment.
• Industrial structure is considered an important factor in explaining the difference
between hazardous waste types and quantities arising in the different countries and
regions. Significant differences exist between the respective manufacturing industries,
energy-production sectors and waste incineration activities. According to the NACE
codes less than 30 % of the hazardous waste production in some countries is related to
manufacturing industries, while in other countries more than 80 % of their hazardous
waste comes from these sources. More detailed data respectively on the sources of
hazardous waste with the type of waste are needed in order to facilitate analysis of
different hazardous waste-generation paths in EEA member countries