Select Committee on European Communities Seventeenth Report


Glossary of Acronyms and Technical Terms

(Paragraph references are given where definitions occur in the text)

Aerobic decompositionOpposite of anaerobic decomposition (qv): microbial process which requires oxygen for it to take place.
Anaerobic decomposition Microbial breakdown of waste in the absence of air; the decay process produces gaseous compounds, principally methane and carbon dioxide, and non­gaseous breakdown products which appear in the leachate.
BiogasUsed as a synonym for landfill gas but would in fact include gas produced by decomposition of any biodegradable materials.
BPEOBest practicable environmental option (see paragraph 18).
Certificate of completion Section 39 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 provides for the surrender of a waste management licence, but only if the authority which issued the licence is prepared to accept the surrender. Where the authority is satisfied that the condition of the licensed site is unlikely to cause pollution of the environment or harm to human health, it will issue a certificate of completion, upon which the waste management licence will cease to have effect.
Co-disposalThe disposal of more than one category of waste in the same landfill site, usually a range of industrial wastes with biodegradable municipal wastes, in such a way that the industrial wastes undergo gradual transformation into less hazardous forms.
CO2Carbon dioxide.
ComitologyTerm used to denote the delegation of powers to the Commission to implement Community law subject to a procedure involving a variety of committees of representatives of Member States.
Common PositionThe "common position" agreed by the Council marks the end of the first stage of the two-reading cooperation procedure (qv), the common position is sent back to the Parliament for second reading.
Compliance cost assessment An assessment by the Government of the costs of complying with a legislative proposal from the Commission: Governments have given an undertaking to Parliament that a CCA will accompany all Explanatory Memoranda on proposals with burdensome implications for business.
CompostingAn aerobic biological process in which biodegradable (organic) material serves as a feedstock for microbial growth: the end product is a relatively stabilised material, with a reduced organic content, which can be used as a soil conditioner.
Controlled wasteHousehold, industrial and commercial waste (section 75, Environmental Protection Act 1990).
Cooperation Procedure One of several EU legislative procedures, the cooperation procedure requires reference of the common position (qv) to the European Parliament. The Council's ability to adopt the common position is dependent on the reaction of the Parliament. The detailed procedure is set out in Article 189c of the EC Treaty: under the Treaty of Amsterdam the co-decision procedure (Article 189b) will replace the cooperation procedure for legislative purposes other than monetary union.
DETRDepartment of the Environment, Transport and the Regions.
Economic instruments Fiscal and other measures (eg subsidies or quotas) used as inducements or deterrents to maintain or to bring about changes in patterns of production, consumption etc. The landfill tax is an example.
Environment Council The Council of Ministers as constituted for consideration of environmental business, ie made up of Member States' environment ministers.
ESAEnvironmental Services Association.
Filter cakeThe solid product from the mechanical de­watering of a sludge or liquid containing suspended solids.
Framework Directive A Directive which establishes a framework for Community policy within a particular field, including objectives to be achieved and general principles to be followed by Member States, and which is complemented by a series of more detailed measures, or "daughter directives".
Global Warming Potential See paragraph 47.
Greenhouse gasAny gas (in this context methane and CO2) which in the atmosphere allows external radiation to pass through but which traps reflected radiation, thus causing the temperature of the Earth's atmosphere to increase (the greenhouse effect).
IWMInstitute of Wastes Management.
LandfillThe engineered deposit of waste into or on to land (see paragraph 1).
Landfill gasA mixture of about 60 per cent methane and 40 per cent carbon dioxide, with trace concentrations of a range of vapours and gases (see paragraphs 2 and 46).
LeachateThe result of liquid seeping through a landfill and, by so doing, extracting (ie leaching) substances from the deposited wastes.
Life cycle analysis (LCA) See paragraphs 121-3.
MonofillA landfill at which only one type of waste is deposited (eg hazardous waste).
OECDOrganisation for Economic Co­operation and Development.
Precautionary principle The avoidance or the reduction of risks to the environment by prudent action taken before any serious problem is encountered (see paragraph 88 and footnote).
Proportionality(See paragraph 64:) The European Court of Justice has consistently held that in order to establish whether a principle of Community law complies with the principle of proportionality "it must be ascertained whether the means which it employs are suitable for the purpose of achieving the desired objective and whether they do not go beyond what is necessary to achieve it" (Case C-354/95, R v Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, ex parte National Farmers' Union and Others: [1997] 1 CMLR, at para 49).
Proximity principle See paragraph 14.
Qualified Majority Voting The most widely used method of voting used in the Council of Ministers: under the EC Treaty each Member State is given a weighting, expressed as a number of votes, which broadly reflects its population. Weightings range from 10 (France, Germany, Italy and UK) to 2 (Luxembourg). The total number of votes is 87, of which formally 62 are needed for adoption of a proposal from the Commission.
RecoveryIn the context of waste management a term which covers all aspects of getting value out of waste materials, including re­use, reprocessing, recycling, composting, and production of energy or heating from combustion of waste or landfill gas.
SEPAScottish Environment Protection Agency.
SubsidiarityThe principle that decisions should be taken at the lowest level consistent with effective action within a political system: Article 3b of the EC Treaty states: "In areas which do not fall within its exclusive competence, the Community shall take action, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, only and in so far as the objectives of the proposed action cannot be sufficiently achieved by the Member States and can therefore, by reason of the scale of effects of the proposed action, be better achieved by the Community" (see paragraph 64).
Sustainability(Of landfill:) "Returning the contents of a landfill site to the environment in a controlled manner, at a rate which the environment can accept without harm, generally using pro­active measures over a limited timescale to diminish polluting capability, in a way which does not leave a long­term legacy of active monitoring and management" (DOE Waste Management Paper 26B: cf paragraph 9).
VitrificationProcess of conversion into glass or glasslike substance (eg to reduce hazardous characteristics of waste).

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