In December 2017 the Polish Parliament adopted an act amending the waste management system. The amendment adapts Polish law to EU law and changes regulations regarding the classification of waste as hazardous. From 6 January 2018, Polish law states explicitly that properties on the basis of which waste could be classified as hazardous and the conditions for such classification are stipulated by EU law. This is an important change, as certain types of waste that were previously considered non-hazardous could be now reclassified as hazardous. This will entail higher waste management costs and may require companies to update their waste management policies. In practical terms, the change means that companies should verify how their waste will be classified in accordance with EU law.  

A second objective of the amendment is to limit the informal waste management sector (“grey zone”). This will be facilitated by introducing amendments to the waste registers, in particular, waste transfer notes (karta przekazania odpadów – KPO) which are used to confirm waste collection and management. These new provisions will come into force on 1 January 2020. Although the date may seem distant, due to the significance of the amendments individual businesses need the time to prepare themselves. 

So, what exactly will change? From the day the regulations come into force it will be possible to generate KPOs only through an online database of products, packaging and waste management (BDO). This means that all participants in the waste management process, including waste producers, will need to have access to the BDO in real time. This will require businesses to obtain additional equipment. 

The scope of data included in the KPOs will also be extended. They will have to indicate the date and time that a waste transport commences, and when the recipient accepts the waste, as well as the weight, code and name of the waste types. The requirement to provide the weight of the waste will cause practical problems as waste producers will have to have appropriate scales.  

It will no longer be possible to create collective KPOs that cover aggregated waste of a given type transferred within one month through the same transporter. This change aims to prevent the numerous irregularities and anomalies that have hitherto accompanied waste transfer. It will, however, result in a significant increase in administrative work for waste producers, as individual KPOs will have to be issued in respect of each transferred waste load.

At present, a driver transporting waste does not need to have a KPO. However, the amendment stipulates that drivers must have a confirmation generated from the BDO. In the case of an inspection, this document should facilitate the verification of the information contained in a given KPO against the actual status.

Additionally, a waste recipient will have to confirm each acceptance of waste in the BDO, provide information on the date and time of receiving the waste and report the waste weight if it differs from the weight provided by the entity transferring the waste. On that basis environmental inspectors will be able to determine the details of the waste transport, which is aimed at preventing illegal dumping.

As the register will be kept in electronic form only, the smooth functioning of many waste management businesses will depend on the reliable operation of the BDO. This is of particular importance for waste transport, as it will be legally possible only if the BDO operates properly. Unfortunately, the amendment does not set out any procedures in the event of a system failure (as does, for example, the monitoring system for road transport of goods).

The above changes require certain organisational measures to be taken by businesses with a view to preparing for the new conditions.