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Slovak Republic: Stricter controls over waste

The new act on waste, which will enter into force on January 1 2016, introduces changes that will primarily affect manufacturing and manufacturers as producers of waste

Radka Sláviková-GeržováRudolf Sivák
The new act on waste, which will enter into force on January 1 2016, introduces changes that will primarily affect manufacturing and manufacturers as producers of waste.

The most significant change is the abolishment of the recycling fund, which used financial contributions from manufacturers and importers to aid in the collection, recovery and treatment of certain types of waste. Until now, waste management was steered by the recycling fund but once the new act enters into force it will be organised by manufacturers or by special organisations that will represent the manufacturers. Manufacturers and importers will no longer be required to make contributions to the recycling fund or have reporting duties to the fund, and waste producers will no longer be able to apply for financial contributions and subsidies from the recycling fund to implement their waste management projects.

Manufacturers, as producers of waste, will have to shoulder much more responsibility for their products – from the manufacturing process all the way through the waste treatment process. This means manufacturers will be responsible for the treatment and recycling of their products, certainly at a cost increase to them. In laying down rules for waste management, the act provides a waste category entitled reserved products which includes electrical and electronic equipment, batteries including car batteries, packaging, vehicles, tyres and non-packaging products such as paper, glass, plastic and cardboard. The additional responsibilities placed on manufacturers of reserved products (the act calls these manufacturers selected manufacturers) consist of requirements on the material composition or construct of the reserved products, awareness of their composition and proper disposal, and ensuring appropriate financial coverage.

The Environmental Ministry will keep a register of manufacturers of reserved products; those manufacturers of reserved products who are not yet registered will need to register prior to putting a reserved product on the market. All manufacturers of reserved products will have to demonstrate their ability to satisfy the obligations provided in the new act, either individually or through the newly-formed manufacturer responsibility organisations. It is presumed that these authorised organisations will be established through the transformation of existing companies engaged in the collection and treatment of waste. Under the act, these manufacturer responsibility organisations will not earn profits, so they must use all funds to comply with their lawful duties. Manufacturers that choose to fulfil these duties individually will have to create their own system of contractual relationships for the waste management of their products, in addition to satisfying an entire array of other lawful requirements. The act envisages the creation of coordination centres to optimise and elaborate on the satisfaction of the manufacturers' obligations; the coordination centres are intended to unify the authorised organisations and the manufacturers that opted to satisfy their obligations individually. There will be one coordination centre for each specific group of similar reserved products' waste.

In practical terms, manufacturers of reserved products will have to ensure, either themselves or through an authorised organisation, the collection and treatment of the sorted municipal waste that is part of the reserved waste stream. The manufacturers themselves, or the authorised organisations appointed by the manufacturers, will be responsible for the costs of separate collection of this waste – from the collection receptacles all the way through the sorting of the individual components of the waste at the collection centre. Municipalities will now only be responsible for the costs associated with the collection and treatment of mixed municipal waste and waste that was not property sorted.

The act also provides significantly stricter requirements and controls on the purchase of scrap metals waste from individuals (non-business entities) and prohibits the landfilling of separated components of municipal waste subject to the expanded responsibility of manufacturers, as well as the landfilling of sorted biodegradable waste.

A financial guarantee or equivalent insurance must be provided for the cross-border transport of waste from the Slovak Republic to other EU member states and for the export of waste from the Slovak Republic to non-member states to cover the costs of transport, recovery or disposal, including all necessary interim operation and the costs of storage of the waste for a period of 90 days. The new act also provides that cross-border transport may be banned if the notifier or consignee, or a person acting on behalf of the notifier or consignee participating in the cross-border movement of waste was found guilty of a waste management offence or convicted in the last three years of an environmental offence.

Radka Sláviková-Geržová and Rudolf Sivák

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