12-12-2012

Waste - Solid, Urban Wastewater, Toxics, Clinical and Hazardous Waste, Waste Management, Recycling

Authors

  • Charalambos G. Prountzos, Advocate Managing
    Partner at Prountzos & Prountzos LLC

What waste categories are within the ambit of the 2011 Waste Law (no. 185(I)/2011)?

The 2011 Waste Law (Law 185(I)/2011) in Cyprus, hereinafter ‘the Law’, has been in force since its publication in the Cyprus Gazette on the 23rd December 2011. The Law regulates all necessary procedures in relation to the protection of the environment and human health, in an effort to minimize the negative implications of the production and to regulate the management of waste. The Law does not apply to:

  • Emissions waste that are released into the atmosphere
  • To land, including land that has undergone pollution
  • To radioactive waste
  • Declassified explosives
  • To excreta, if these do not come under par. 2, subpar. (b)
  • Incineration of human bodies
  • Animal by-products, animal bodies, waste that is produced as a result of mining processes, as long as these come under a different legislative regime.

The Law harmonizes local legislation with European Directives 2008/98/EC, 96/59/EC, 99/31/EC, 2002/96/EC, 2006/66/EC, 2011/65/EC and with EC Regulation no. 1013/2006.

Which is the relevant Authority for regulation of waste management?

The competent authority vested with the responsibility of the sound application of the Law and of the European Regulation no. 1013/2006 is the Minister of Agriculture, Natural Resources and the Environment, hereinafter ‘the Authority’, except a few cases where the competent authority is deemed to be the Minister of Internal Affairs. In practice, most of the technical work and assessment in relation to environmental and waste management issues is carried out by the Department of Environment of the Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and the Environment with the competent Minister maintaining specific executive powers assigned by the Law.

What is the definition of ‘waste’ under the Law?

Waste is defined as any substance or object which is disposed of or is meant to be disposed of or must obligatorily be disposed of, by its owner.

How are waste by-products defined by the Law?

By-products are substances or objects that result from a production procedure whose primary objective was not the production of the aforementioned by-product. These may not be considered as waste products but instead as by-products, if they comply with the following requirements:

  • The further use of the by-product is certain.
  • The by-product may be used as it is, without further production procedures.
  • The by-product results as an indispensable part of an industrial process.
  • Its further use is compliant with all relevant requirements regarding the protection of the environment and public health for a specific use.

What are waste products that have undergone Recovery Operations, and what are Listed Waste Products?

Waste products that:

  • Have undergone recovery operations,
  • Fulfill certain criteria which involve a specific use,
  • There exists a market for the aforementioned product,
  • Their use will have no negative implications on the environment,

will be declassified from their description as waste. Under no circumstances though may their declassification be a result of dilution or mixing processes that merely lower their initial concentration to a level lower than the maximum set for their classification as waste. Listed Waste Products are defined as such by the Authority, but such a classification does not necessarily mean that it constitutes waste under any circumstances as the substance that is under consideration is considered to be within the ambit of waste only if it comes under the definition of section 2 of the Law.

Methods of proper waste management

Waste management must be conducted in such a way so as not to set human health or the environment in peril. It must avoid dangers relating to the pollution of water, air, land, flora and fauna. It should avoid causing nuisance through noise or odors and without negative implications to protected species and natural habitats.

Who needs to obtain a Waste Management License?

Any person who is involved with the collection and transfer of waste products, takes care of waste disposal procedures on behalf of third parties or personally undertakes his/her own waste disposal processes including their retrieval and disposal, must obtain a Waste Management License.

What do I need to secure a Waste Management License?

To secure a Waste Management License under s. 24 of the Law, you must submit an application to the competent authority and this must be accompanied by:

  • A planning permit, if the purported waste disposal processes presuppose the development of immovable property for which a planning permit is required.
  • A building permit.
  • A study of the construction, organization, function and after care of the a for ementioned structure. This study must comply with the relevant Waste Management Plan and all relevant legislation.

The application is submitted in printed form as defined by the relevant Authority after an advisory opinion by the Advisory Committee on Waste Management (SEDA) has been granted.

What does the Waste Management License cover?

The Waste Management License will define, although not exhaustively, the following:

  • The length of time for which it has been granted.
  • The type and quantity of waste that are allowed to undergo a disposal procedure.
  • The techniques and other criteria relevant to the permitted processes.
  • The security and precautionary measures that must be observed.
  • The method used for each process.
  • The measures to be taken in emergency situations.
  • The necessary scientific and technically trained staff.
  • The control processes, if necessary.
  • Information relating to the shutting-down of the premises, if necessary.

Responsibilities of any person involved in waste management procedures.

Any person who undertakes work that results in waste production must undertake procedures of waste retrieval himself, based on the criteria that are strictly set by his Waste Management License, or delegate the retrieval and disposal of said waste to a person licensed to process waste. Nevertheless, the original producer is not exempted of his responsibility for the retrieval and disposal of the said waste. It is important to note that producers/retrievers/persons responsible for waste disposal are strictly prohibited from mixing dangerous waste with other categories of dangerous or other waste substances, including their dilution. During collection, transfer and temporary storage, waste must be properly packed and labeled based on existing protocols and examples set by the European Union. During their transfer, they must be accompanied by an “Identification and Monitoring of Waste Product Transfer Form”. The cost of waste disposal procedures burdens the primary waste producer, their current owner or their predecessors. Producers are responsible for the disposal of these waste products and the funding of the collection, reuse and preparation procedures for their disposal under ss. 9 and 10 of the Law.

What is the role of the Advisory Committee on Waste Management (S.E.D.A.)?

SEDA is responsible for advising the relevant Authorities with regard to the granting of a Waste Management License and defining the terms governing a Waste Management License. It is also responsible for approving singular or collective Waste Management Systems and taking any necessary measures for the reduction of waste production and their proper retrieval and disposal. The relevant Authority may appoint Inspectors who act within the current framework of the law. Inspectors shall conduct regular checks, without notice, to any person that:

  • undertakes waste management procedures
  • collects and/or transfers waste to facilities
  • produces waste

in order to ensure that the relevant procedures, including the recovery steps within premises after they have ceased function are being duly followed according to the terms of the respective Waste management License and the Law, are observed.

What is the role of inspectors for waste management?

Under s. 45 of the Law, inspectors may:

  • Enter any premises within which there is reason to believe that certain procedures taking place could possibly constitute a violation of requirements set by the Law, either while the premises are undergoing waste management processes or at any other time.
  • Conduct relevant tests or measurements.
  • To inspect, examine and control the function of any structures, machinery, devices or equipment found within such premises and video-record or photograph any necessary information.
  • To request the presentation and conduct proper checks of the necessary inputs in the relevant registers, books or documents that may contain information relevant to the operation of the premises.
  • To request safe and secure access to any part of the premises, and all necessary equipment or means that would help the Inspector conduct a thorough control check.

What are Improvement Notices and/or Prohibitory Notices?

Under s. 46 of the Law, inspectors may issue an Improvement Notice that defines

  • The relevant violations of the Law or the Waste Management License terms, and
  • A time period, not less than 21 days, during which the said violation must be terminated.

If the said premises and persons responsible do not adhere to these instructions within the set time period, the Inspector may issue a Prohibitory Notice that defines

  • The reasons suggesting that the operation of the relevant premises might, inter alia, lead to or constitute an immediate danger under the Law and instructs that, if within a set time period the premises do not comply with the law by taking all necessary precautions/measures, the premises will either:
    • Stop all operations, or
    • Operations shall cease for as long as the violations defined by the Inspector continue to exist.

Alternatively, Inspectors who have reasons to believe that a person or premises are violating any relevant sections of the Law, has the power to require an extrajudicial settlement of the said violations for a sum that does not exceed Euro 4,000.

What is the extent of the Administrative Sanctions that may be imposed?

Any person that causes pollution or devaluation of the environment or violates any rules set forth by the Law, and independently of any civil or criminal responsibility they may

entail, administrative sanctions may be imposed by a decision of the relevant Authority for a sum not more than Euro 500,000. Any person, against whom an administrative sanction has been imposed, may pursue court action within 21 days based on s. 51 of the Law against the decision of the relevant Authority. These actions will be examined by the Council of Ministers, the affected person will be heard and the Council of Ministers shall decide within short time limits as to the validity of the action.

What does the Law for the Control of Atmospheric Pollution (no. 187(I)/2002) cover?

The aim of the Law for the Control of Atmospheric Pollution (no. 187(I)/2002), hereinafter “the Law on Atmospheric Pollution”, is the prevention, reduction and control of atmospheric pollution from premises, for the best protection of health and well-being of citizens and for the protection and improvement of the environment, flora and fauna within the Republic of Cyprus. The Law on Atmospheric Pollution does not apply to pollution by ionizing radiation.

What premises need a License of compliance with the Law on Atmospheric Pollution?

Such premises include, but are not limited to:

  • The energy industry (premises involving processing of crude oil, synthetic or natural gas, coal production and others).
  • Industries involved in the production and process of metal.
  • Mineral Industry
  • Chemical Industry
  • Waste disposal Industry For a detailed list, please see Annex II of the Law on Atmospheric Pollution.

How do I apply for a License of compliance with the Law on Atmospheric Pollution?

For any newly built premises, an application must be submitted to the Ministry of Labor and Social Insurance for the grant of a License. This must include a description of, but not limited to, the following:

  • The premises, their nature and the extent of their operation.
  • A diagram of the major alternative technical solutions that were submitted.
  • The products resulting from the operation of the premises.
  • The primary and secondary sources, substance and energy used or produced by the premises.
  • The sources of gaseous emissions of the premises.
  • The nature and quantity of the envisioned gaseous emissions to the atmosphere, as well as to define the important implication of these gaseous emissions to the environment.
  • The technology and/or other techniques aiming to prevent the gaseous emissions emanating from the premises, or at least aiming to reduce these emissions.
  • The precautionary and recovery measures of the gaseous emissions produced, if requested.
  • The projected control measures of these gaseous emissions and of air quality in the area of the premises, if requested.

The application shall also include a non-technical description of the aforementioned requirements.

Must I comply with any other conditions and/or requirements before I am granted a License of compliance with the Law on Atmospheric Pollution?

The License shall be granted provided that the Minister is satisfied that the operator of the premises is capable of conforming to all the criteria of the current Law on Atmospheric Pollution and other relevant Regulations. Before granting the License, certain conditions may be attached as requisites for the functioning of the premises. These may include:

  • Technical specifications.
  • Maximum emission rates.
  • Equipment that must be installed before commencing operations.
  • Measuring devices or other equipment that must be installed by the operator of the premises at his own expense .
  • Relevant studies that may be required to be submitted by the operator of the premises with regard to the environmental management of the topics relevant to the control of atmospheric pollution.

Alteration of the method of operation of premises

In case that such operator purports to vary or alter in any way the methods of operation for which a License had been granted, he must file an application for a new License before proceeding with any change in the mode of operation of the said premises. Variation is defined, but not limited to, any change that will possibly have important negative implications to humans or the environment, and any substantial transition of the modes of operation within the said premises.

Violation of the Law on Atmospheric Pollution and/or the License

Any person violating terms of the License granted, or any person undertaking operations without a valid License, is guilty of a criminal offence under s. 26 of the Law on Atmospheric Pollution. Furthermore, a person is guilty of an offence if, but not limited to:

  • He inhibits an Inspector from duly exercising his duties.
  • Inhibits any other person duly authorized to enter the premises with an Inspector.
  • Does not conform to relevant guidelines issued by an Inspector.

In cases of violation of ss. 11, 15, 20 (4) or 22 (5) of the Law on Atmospheric Pollution, an interim order may be ordered to inhibit the continuation or repetition of a purportedly illegal act until the matter has been properly settled via court procedure.

NB: With regard to Improvement Notices and Prohibitory Notices, similar conditions apply as to the 2011 Law on Waste above. NB: With regard to the powers of control exercised by an Inspector, similar conditions apply as to the 2011 Law on Waste above.

What does the 2002 Law on the Pollution of Water (no. 106(I)/2002) cover?

The Law on the Pollution ofWater dictates inter alia that, any person who deposits or disposes, or allows such actions within streams or dry bed of any stream or coastal area, or ponds or dams that pollutes or tends to pollute the water, is guilty of an offence and is subject to a prison sentence that does not exceed three (3) years or to a fine that does not exceed 50,000 Cyprus Pounds (or equivalent) or both. Such persons though shall not be liable if such action is undertaken via a License granted based on the Law on the Pollution of Water. The function of any premises liable to cause pollution to water or land, is prohibited, except if a License is granted.

How do I obtain a License of compliance with the Law on the Pollution of Water?

An application is submitted to the Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and the Environment that contains a detailed description of, but not limited to:

  • The premises and nature and extent of the processes involved.
  • The primary and secondary sources, the products and the energy used or produced.
  • The sources of solid and liquid waste emanation by the premises.
  • The nature and quantity of the projected solid and liquid waste emanations.
  • The technology used to ensure prevention of pollution by the aforementioned waste.
  • The precautionary measures for the proper disposal of this waste.
  • The measures taken to properly monitor the emanation of waste in water and land.

The Minister may also request details on, but not limited to:

  • The place and way of the disposal of the aforementioned waste.
  • The rate of disposal and their total quantity as defined within the License.
  • The nature, composition and any natural characteristics of disposed substances.
  • The maximum concentration of any composite found within the disposed waste.
  • The sampling rate and analysis by the operator of the premises. The Minister of Labor and Social Insurance may request further conditions, such as but not limited to:
  • Technical specifications for any premises and/or equipment used for compliance with the conditions of the License.
  • The placement, function and aftercare, at the operator’s expense, of equipment for the constant or term-based monitoring of the disposed waste, temperature, acidity and other measurements and/or rates.

NB: The law prescribes specific conditions for Mining Waste Facilities (Part III, s. 17A of the Law on the Pollution of Water).

Sanctions for Violation of specific sections of the Law on the Pollution of Water:

  • Violation of s. 8 of the Law on the Pollution of Water entails a prison sentence not exceeding three (3) years or a fine not exceeding 20,000 Cyprus Pounds (or equivalent) or both. Prountzos & Prountzos LLC
  • With regard to violations relating to inhibition of an Inspector from duly conducting his duties, the perpetrator may be subject to a prison sentence not exceeding six (6) months or a fine not exceeding 1,000 Cyprus Pounds (or Equivalent) or both.

Without prejudice to the above sanctions, the Minister may request any person judged guilty of an offence in relation to the Law on the Pollution of Water to eliminate the damage or the extent of the pollution within reasonable time frameworks. There also exists a provision for extrajudicial regulation of certain violations, namely those of ss. 6, 29(1) and 29(2) of the Law on the Pollution of Water.

Notes:

  1. In an effort to harmonize local legislation with EU Directive 2006/123/EC with regard to service provision in the internal market, art. 13 (3) of the Law on the Freedom of Establishment of Service Providers and the Free Movement of Services (no. 76(1)/2010) provides that all procedures for granting of a License give applicants a guarantee that their applications will be examined without delay, and in any case, within a 3-month time limit once all relevant documentation has been submitted, except cases where the Law prescribes differently.
  2. With regard to Improvement Notices and Prohibitory Notices, similar conditions apply as to the 2011 Law on Waste above.
  3. With regard to the powers of control exercised by an Inspector, similar conditions apply as to the 2011 Law on Waste above. Furthermore, certain specific requirements exist as to the ways of sampling substances for chemical examination of waste products.
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