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New momentum for the circular economy

The Waste Management Act 2002 (AWG 2002) is soon to be comprehensively amended. It is primarily intended to implement the EU Circular Economy Pact. In addition to strengthening the circular economy, the project also focuses on reducing the volume of plastic waste in Austria. An overview:

Praise and criticism of the draft

The draft was under review until the beginning of June and was the subject of numerous comments. In addition to general approval, numerous points of criticism have been raised.

Adaptation to amended EU regulations

In any case, the main focus of the amendment to the Waste Management Act is the implementation of EU law, in particular the EU’s Single-Use Plastic Directive as well as the Circular Economy Pact. As part of the circular economy package, the following EU directives have been changed:

The aim of the amendment is, on the one hand, to promote a circular economy in which products, materials and resources are returned to the production process as far as possible after use, thereby reducing the generation of waste to a minimum, and, on the other hand, to reduce the amount of plastic waste in Austria in order to prevent or reduce the negative effects of plastic waste on the environment.

In addition, the amendment is intended – in line with the Federal Government’s goal to promote the transport of “rail-related goods” by rail – to increase the use of rail transport for the transport of waste, thereby making a significant contribution to the reduction of emissions in road traffic.

Changes in detail

In particular, the draft comprises the following details:

  • new targets for the recycling of municipal waste (to at least 65% by 2035) and specific targets for packaging (to a total of 70% by 2030);
  • measures to expand the extended manufacturer responsibility, in particular with regard to electrical and electronic equipment, device batteries or accumulators, vehicle batteries or accumulators, single-use plastic products and fishing gear containing plastic;
  • obligation of foreign manufacturers of vehicles and batteries to appoint a responsible representative in Austria (as is currently the case with electric appliances);
  • prohibition of placing certain single-use plastic products on the market (e.g. cotton swabs, drinking straws, balloon sticks);
  • adaptation of the classification rule according to § 7 AWG 2002 to the amended provisions of the Waste Catalogue Ordinance and Landfill Ordinance 2008;
  • reversal of the burden of proof rule for by-products and end of waste: The owner of a substance or object must prove that the requirements for a by-product within the meaning of Section 2 (3a) AWG 2002 or the end of waste status according to Section 5 AWG 2002 are met;
  • prohibition of incineration and landfilling of waste separately collected for recovery (preparation for reuse or recycling);
  • separate collection for paper, metal, plastic, glass, organic and textile waste;
  • obligatory transport of waste of three tons or more within Austria over a certain transport distance (1,300/200/100 km) by rail or by other means of transport with equivalent or lower pollutant or greenhouse gas potential (exceptions: no rail capacity, arrival and departure to the loading point more than 25% by road).


It is now up to the responsible Ministry of the Environment (BMK) to review and process the comments received on the draft. It remains to be seen how the final version of the amendment will be designed. Due to the scope of the amendment and the explosive nature of some of the proposed changes, the resolution of the amendment in parliament could still take some time. However, the time pressure is great, especially since the EU Circular Economy Package should have already been implemented since last summer (implementation deadline was July 5th, 2020) and Austria could face further infringement proceedings.

If you have any further questions on this topic, please do not hesitate to contact our expert Reka Krasznai from the Environmental Law Team.


This article is for general information only and does not replace legal advice. Haslinger / Nagele Rechtsanwälte GmbH assumes no liability for the content and correctness of this article.


8. July 2021

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