Seagulls hover over a landfill site located in the Community of Madrid region. Óscar Chamorro
Europe launches legal proceedings against Spain for inadequate landfill management

Europe launches legal proceedings against Spain for inadequate landfill management

Latest data shows 12.7% of municipal waste goes directly to landfill without any treatment

Sunday, 24 March 2024, 22:37

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The European Commission has launched infringement proceedings against Spain for failing to properly manage its landfill sites. It sent a letter of formal notice to Spain informing it of the case concerning its management of urban waste.

European legislation sets standards for landfills in order to prevent negative effects on human health, water, soil and air. Under the landfill directive, member states must take appropriate measures to ensure that only treated waste is landfilled. It comes as the European Green Pact and the Zero Pollution Action Plan set a zero pollution target for the European Union.

Facilities without treatment plants

In 2014 the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that, prior to landfilling, waste must be treated. However, recent data shows 12.7% of municipal waste collected in Spain does not receive the required treatment before disposal in landfills.

"Furthermore, Spain has not established an integrated and adequate network of facilities for the management of mixed municipal waste covering all landfills in the country," the Commission added.

Spain has two months to reply to the Commission's formal letter and remedy the shortcomings identified. "In the absence of a satisfactory response, the Commission may decide to issue a reasoned opinion," it added.

195 illegal landfills as a precedent

This new step taken by Europe against the management of urban waste in Spain is in addition to the complaint to the Court of Justice of the European Union for the proliferation of illegal landfills (195 at least, the official statement said) scattered throughout the peninsular territory without any authority intervening to "closed, sealed or restored since 2008", which, according to Europe, "is causing serious damage to the environment and endangers human health". Most of them are solid waste, mostly construction debris. The Ministry for Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge (Miterd) told this newspaper: "Miteco will continue to work with the competent autonomous regions to solve this as soon as possible. It is the responsibility of the community where the landfill is located to proceed to its closure, sealing and decommissioning and to prove it".

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