National legislation: standards, directives, taxes, trading tools

"The Council of the European Union, having regard to A, B, and C, act­ing in accordance with procedures P Q, and R of activities X, Y and Z, and whereas… (there follows a list of 27 "whereases") has adopted this directive…"—that was a paraphrase of the way an EU Directive starts. Environmental legislation makes heavy reading. These directives are cast in legal language of such Gothic formality and Baroque intricacy that orga­nizations spring up with the sole purpose of interpreting it. But since much of it impinges, directly or indirectly, on the use of materials, it is important to get the central message.

National legislation, typified by U. S. Environmental Agency Acts or European Union Environmental Directives, takes four broad forms:

■ Setting up standards

■ Voluntary agreements negotiated with industry

■ Binding legislation that imposes requirements with penalties if they are not met

■ Economic instruments that seek to use market forces to induce change: taxes, subsidies, and trading schemes

Standards. I SO 14000 of the International Standards Organization defines a family of standards for environmental management systems.[18] It contains the set ISO 14040, 14041, 14042, and 14043, published between 1997 and 2000 and prescribing broad but vague procedures for the four steps described in Chapter 3, Section 3.3 (goals and scope, inventory compila­tion, impact assessment, and interpretation). The standard is an attempt to bring uniform practice and objectivity into life-cycle assessment and its interpretation, but it is not binding in any way.

ISO 14025 is a standard guiding the reporting of LCA data as an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) or a Climate Declaration (CD).[19] The goal is to communicate information about the environmental perfor­mance of products as a "declaration" in a standard, easily understood for­mat. The data used for the declaration must follow the ISO 14040 family of procedures and must be independently validated by a third party. The EPD describes the output of a full LCA or (if declared so) part of one. The CD is limited to emissions that contribute to global warming: CO2, CO, CH4, and N2O.

In practice, LCA procedures are used primarily for in-house product development, benchmarking, and promoting the environmental benefits of one product over another. They are rarely used as the basis for regulation because of the difficulties, described in Chapter 3, of setting system bound­aries, of double counting, and of limited coverage across products.

Voluntary agreements and binding legislation. Current legislation is aimed at internalizing costs and conserving materials by increasing manu­facturers’ responsibilities, placing on them the burden of cost for disposal. Here are some examples.

The U. S. Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), enacted in 1976, is a federal law of the United States. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) monitors compliance. RCRA’s goals are to:

■ Protect the public from harm caused by waste disposal

■ Encourage reuse, reduction, and recycling

■ Clean up spilled or improperly stored wastes

The U. S. EPA 35/50 Program (1988) identified 16 priority chemicals, italicized in Table 5.2, with the aim of reducing industrial toxicity by vol­untary action by industry over a 10-year period.

Other legislation includes:

■ The U. S. EPA Code of Federal Regulation (CFR). Protection of the environment (CFR Part 302) deals with protection of the environment and human health, imposing restrictions on chemicals released into the environment during manufacture, life, and disposal. Like REACH (discussed later in this list), it requires manufacturers to register the use of any one of a long list of chemicals and materials (Table 302.2 of the Regulation) if the quantity used exceeds a threshold.

Table 5.2 Priority chemicals and materials

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)



Intermediate in production of styrene, thus many polymers

Carbon tetrachloride

Solvent for metal degreasing, lacquers



Methyl ethyl ketone

Solvent for metal degreasing, lacquers


Solvent for metal degreasing




Solvent, base of adhesives


Lacquers, rubber adhesives

Toxic metals or salts of metals


Fibro-board reinforcement, thermal and electrical insulation


Bearings, pigments in glasses

Beryllium + compounds

Space structures, copper-beryllium alloys

Cadmium and its compounds

Electrodes, plating, pigment in glasses and ceramics

Chromium compounds

Electroplating, pigments in glasses and ceramics

Cobalt + and compounds

Superalloys, pigments in glasses and glazes

Lead + compounds

Storage batteries, bearing alloys, solders

Mercury + compounds

Control equipment, liquid electrode in chemical production

Nickel + compounds

Nickel carbonyl as intermediate in nickel production

Radioactive materials

Materials science and medicine

Toxic chemicals


Electroplating, extraction of gold and silver

■ Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs, 1999). The European Directive EC 1999/13 aimed to limit the emissions of VOCs caused by the use of organic solvents and carriers like those in organic-based paints and industrial cleaning fluids. Compliance became mandatory in 2007.

■ End-of-Life Vehicles (ELV, 2000). The European Community Directive EC2000/53 establishes norms for recovering materials from dead cars. The initial target, a rate of reuse and recycling of 80% by weight

of the vehicle and the safe disposal of hazardous materials, was established in 2006. By 2015 the recycling target rises to 85%. The motive is to encourage manufacturers to redesign their products to avoid using hazardous materials and to design them to maximize ease of recovery and reuse.

■ Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS 2002). The RoHS Directive stands for "the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment." This directive bans the placing on the EU market of new electrical and electronic equipment containing more than agreed levels of six materials: lead, cadmium, mercury, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyl (PBB), and polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) flame retardants. It is closely linked with the WEEE Directive (discussed next), which sets collection, recycling, and recovery targets for electrical goods and is part of a legislative initiative to solve the problem of huge amounts of toxic waste arising from electronic products.

■ Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE,2002). A similar directive (EC 2002/96 and 2003/108) on waste electrical and electronic equipment seeks to increase recovery, recycling, and reuse of electronic equipment and electrical appliances. It requires that producers finance the collection, recovery, and safe disposal of their products and meet certain recycling targets. Products failing to meet the requirement must be marked accordingly (a crossed-out wheeled bin).

■ Energy-using Products (EuP, 2003). The EU Directive EC 2003/0172 establishes a framework of ecodesign requirements for products that use energy—appliances, electronic equipment, pumps, motors, and the like. It requires that manufacturers of any product that uses energy "shall demonstrate that they have considered the use of energy in their product as it relates to materials, manufacture, packaging transport and distribution, use, and end of life. For each of these the consumption of energy must be assessed and steps to minimise it identified."

■ Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, and Restriction of Chemical Substances (REACH, 2006). The Directive EC 1907/2006 came into force in June 2007, to be phased in over the following 11 years. The directive places more responsibility on manufacturers to manage risks from chemicals and to find substitutes for those that are most dangerous. The list is a long one—it has some 30,000 chemicals

Подпись: Economic instruments: taxes and trading schemes 93

on it—and it affects anyone in the European Union who produces, trades, processes, or consumes any "chemical," including metals and alloys, in quantities greater than 1 tonne per year. And there is more. Manufacturers in Europe and importers into Europe must register the restricted substances they use by providing a detailed technical dossier for each, listing their properties, an assessment of their impacts on the environment and human health, and the risk – reduction measures they have adopted. Without preregistration, it is illegal for manufacturers and importers to place substances on the market.

Updated: September 28, 2015 — 5:35 pm