Even though the EC definition on waste was meant to be complete, when it is compared to Basel Convention on definition of waste is comparative to national law. This has brought up the argument on how the terms are used in the two definitions particularly the term “discard” used by the EC and “dispose” used by the Basel convention. The absence of universal comprehending of the term “discard” as used by the EU is a key problem in debates concerning waste definition amongst EC members.
Many people have proposed for amendments to be made on the law for example citing that the definition of waste by EC fails to explain expressions such as recovery, by-product, product and many others. Absence for defining recovery for example upon waste ending being waste and becoming a product has a big consequence on such a product as it will necessitate for a license or exemption permits for those buying such a product to use it.
As Pike observes that, some other directives on waste management such as, Waste Incineration Directive, Emissions Trading Scheme, chromium VI directive, Regulated Dangerous Substances (RDS) directive and Habitats directives are some hard to interpret and have resulted in disputes. Tromans also states that, an initial concept problem regards the general definition of what is waste that is what should be classified as waste and potential waste. That it is hard to know the separation line amongst waste products (residuals meant for recycling) and non-waste products (residuals meant for further processing).
This difficulty is applicable to all types of waste. As a result of vagueness of the EC waste legislation, it has resulted to a number of disputes resulting from interpretation waste laws have ended up being taken to the European Court of Justice to be resolved. The European Court has formulated several main criteria to help in determining the presence of waste substance in practice as well as confirming the very wide attainment of waste definition.
Some of the rulings given by the court have tried to ensure that waste definition is not interpreted in a restrictive manner. However, these rulings by the court only add to the vagueness of waste definition. Several consequences have resulted from the usage of waste definition that is vague. In a situation where a substance is being considered as a waste, the material is subjected to the needs and regulations which are contained in the general makeup of legislation of the EU regarding waste.
Which are known as waste framework directive, waste shipment regulation and also hazardous waste directive that are used to implement the Basel convention encompassed in the EC, which also includes the EC provisions on prohibiting exporting of hazardous waste to those countries that are not OECD member states. The substance also, has to be subjected to several EC legislative apparatus which tackles specific treatment of waste operations as well as waste streams.