Waste of different material groups is generated in companies of every industry. To protect people, nature and the environment, the Closed Substance Cycle Waste Management Act (Kreislaufwirtschaftsgesetz) and the Commercial Waste Ordinance (c) in Germany in particular regulate the proper handling of such commercial waste. The legal basis aims to direct an increasing proportion of commercial waste to material recycling and save resources.
The Commercial Waste Ordinance (Gewerbeabfallverordnung) therefore obliges all commercial operators, as producers and owners of so-called commercial residential waste, to collect the waste fractions separately and to feed them for recycling. The following waste fractions are to be collected separately and must be recycled as a priority:
The obligation for separate collection does not apply if this is either technically not possible, for example no sufficient conditions for separate collection in a business, or if this is not economically reasonable, for example the costs for separate collection would be unreasonably high.
If commercial waste is permissibly collected in mixed form, it must always be fed into a pre-treatment facility. In this case, the waste producer must obtain written confirmation from the plant operator that the plant complies with the requirements of the GewAbfV. This so-called operator declaration serves as proof of compliance with the sorting quota of 85%.
As with separate collection, two exceptions apply: The pre-treatment obligation does not apply, if the treatment of the mixtures in a pre-treatment facility is technically impossible or economically unreasonable. In addition, the following applies: If the proportion of mixed waste collected does not exceed 10 % of all waste and at least 90 % of all commercial waste was collected separately in a company in the previous year, the obligation for pre-treatment according to the GewAbfV does not apply, if an expert's report is submitted. In order to document this so-called separate collection quota, the producer must prepare a certificate audited by an authorised expert by 31 March of the following year. The evidence must be presented to the relevant authority upon request.
Producers of commercial waste, who cannot exhibit separate collection and documentation according to the Commercial Waste Ordinance must expect severe fines. After all a violation of one or more regulations of the GewAbfV is an administrative offence that can result in fines of up to €100,000. Depending on the offence this can affect either the waste producer himself, but also specialised waste management companies or operators of pre-treatment facilities.
According to the GewAbfV, waste producers are obliged to properly document separate collection. This means that waste producers must prove by photographs, site plans or practical documents, like invoices, delivery or weighing notes that the commercial waste generated has been collected separately and sent for recycling. Companies and businesses that generate less than 10 cbm of construction and demolition waste are not affected by the legal obligation. For residential waste, on the other hand, there is no de minimis limit.
In addition, the Commercial Waste Ordinance obliges companies to have the supply of separately collected commercial residential waste or construction and demolition waste certified by the waste management company by means of a so-called take-over declaration (“Übernahmeerklärung”). The proof must contain the contact details of the company commissioned, the mass per type of waste (not volume, bulk weight is required for small quantities) and the type of recycling of the waste and must be provided before acceptance.
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