Bartosz Kuraś

More on the Waste Act

Do waste management decisions and notifications retain their validity after entry into force of the new act?

The new Waste Act of 14 December 2012 went into force on 23 January 2013, replacing the previous Waste Act of 27 April 2001 and introducing major changes in the waste management system in Poland, as we have reported in our portal. The purpose of this article is to examine the interim regulations of the new Waste Act. This primarily has to do with determining the fate of waste management permits and notifications under the prior act.

Interim provisions

The answer to this question should be sought first in the interim or “inter-temporal” provisions.

The general rule is that if the act under which an administrative authority has issued administrative decisions is repealed, and a new act is adopted in its place which does not address the issue of the validity of administrative decisions issued under the prior act, the existing decisions maintain their validity for the period for which they were originally issued.

However, in this case, Art. 222 and following of the new Waste Act do address the issue of the validity of administrative decisions (including waste management permits) issued under the 2001 Waste Act, and the necessity to submit new notifications. Several examples of these regulations are discussed below.

Reclassification of waste

Under Art. 8 of the 2012 Waste Act, a holder of waste seeking to change the classification of the waste from hazardous to non-hazardous is required to submit a notification of the reclassification to the province governor for the place where the waste is produced or managed.

Such notification must contain, among other elements, an indication of the place of production or management of the waste, a description of the technological process in which the waste to be reclassified is created, and results of tests of the properties of the waste.

Because the reclassification of waste is regulated somewhat differently in the new Waste Act, producers of waste who made a reclassification of hazardous waste to non-hazardous waste under the 2001 Waste Act are required to submit a notification to the province governor for the place where the waste is produced or managed within 2 years after entry into force of the new Waste Act.

Medical waste

The 2012 Waste Act introduced new rules concerning neutralisation of medical and veterinary waste. Apparently because the new conditions for neutralisation of such waste are somewhat more restrictive, there are specific interim regulations for holders of such waste. Thus a holder of medical waste conducting collection of waste produced during neutralisation of infectious medical or veterinary waste by methods other than thermal conversion could operate under a decision issued pursuant to the 2001 Waste Act for no longer than 3 months after the 2012 Waste Act came into force—a deadline that has already passed.

Waste production permits still valid

The new Waste Act also introduced changes to the Environmental Protection Law. The regulation concerning waste production permits is now set forth in Art. 180a of the Environmental Protection Law, rather than in the Waste Act as it had been before. No major changes were made with respect to such permits, however, and thus under the interim provisions of the 2012 Waste Act waste production permits issued under the 2001 Waste Act continue to be valid for the period for which they were issued.

Permits for waste collection permits or for recovery or neutralisation of waste may not remain valid for longer than 2 years after the effective date of the new Waste Act.

Hazardous waste

Decisions approving waste management programmes and programmes for management of hazardous waste expired upon entry into force of the new Waste Act, as this regulatory instrument was dropped from the new act. There is an exception for permits issued by the competent authority to conduct operations involving recovery or neutralisation of waste or hazardous waste, which remain in force for the period they were issued for, but no longer than 2 years after entry into force of the new Waste Act.

In summary, in each case, holders of administrative decisions concerning waste management issued under the prior Waste Act and entities that made notifications under the prior act should review in detail the interim provisions of the new Waste Act applicable to the decisions or notifications in question. This should help determine whether it is necessary to file a new notification or obtain a new administrative decision in order to avoid the risk of operating without a required decision or notification.

Bartosz Kuraś, Environmental Law Practice, Wardyński & Partners