Who is the Waste Producer? The ABCs of waste, Chapter 2

Phoresta / News  / Circular Economy  / Who is the Waste Producer? The ABCs of waste, Chapter 2

Who is the waste producer?

The waste producer has to be well characterized, since he has different responsibilities other than who carries or hold waste.

Sometimes there is a confusion between a waste producer and a waste holder or a waste trustee, that is, one is likely to think that all the subjects have the same responsibilities and requirements. Even the legislation doesn’t facilitate the understanding of this difference. Until 2015, the legislation specified that the original producer of waste was “the subject whose activity produces waste”. Then an amendment to the rule considered as producer “(…) also the subject to whom the waste production is juridically attributable”. The amendment though does not make exactly clear what “juridically attributable” means, and even the legislation can’t give a clear indication. Also the Court of Appeal keeps on attributing, at least until today, the status of “waste producer” on the basis of the 2015 definition. Nevertheless, it is really important to understand who the producer is, as he is charged with the responsibility of waste management (who pollutes is going to pay).

The waste producer is hence the guarantor of the smooth running of waste management, from production to disposal. He also has to keep a load-unload record and fill the Waste Identification Form (WIF).

The Waste Identification Form (WIF)

The WIF traces the waste path and identify players and steps in the process of waste disposal. The first space to fill in the WIF form is the one related to the Producer; then the one related to the Receiver, including the authorization for the management of the waste given to him. 

Waste characterization and the European Waste Catalogue code are also to be mentioned, together with the waste destination, the quantity, the route the carrier will go along, the type of transport used. The WIF should hence be filled by the waste producer, who is responsible for the whole process.

But in practice, the carrier often shows an already-filled form and asks the producer to sign it: this is completely wrong, as the carrier is neither the GUARANTOR nor the real RESPONSIBLE of the waste management process, and cannot lay claim to this feature.

The Waste Holder

The legislation specifies who the waste holder is. The holder is the subject who is aware of using the good/waste as it is his, hence he actually has the “possession” of waste. Therefore the carrier is not the waste holder.

Once the waste, (or part of it) has reached the disposal plant, the latter will become the waste holder

Plastic coffee cups

By way of example. On my desk there is a plastic coffee cup, therefore, once I have drunk my coffee, I am the waste producer. This is true also in the case I put my cup onto another desk, I ask someone else to dump it in the basket for me, or I temporarily put it elsewhere, far from my desk: I will always be the waste producer. When I am about to throw my cup in the basket. I realize that the door-to-door service for plastic waste is coming. I ask my employee to take out the cup from the basket and bring it to the door-to-door service, so that my basket is empty again.

But at this point I am still the waste holder, until the waste reaches the disposal plant.

When does the waste holder replace the producers? We could answer with a firm NEVER. The producer can see his “irresponsibility” protected in case of transfer of possession, but by no means his value of guarantor in the strict sense cease.