In defining the problems of waste management, as well as the goals we aim to achieve, it is of high importance to know the basic definitions and terms, as well as the legislative framework both of the European Union and its member countries. It is a generally accepted fact that waste is matter or object discarded by its owner, or else which the owner intends or needs to discard. But, at the same time, waste consists of a number of useful primary materials with their own economic value. Waste is created as consequence of all our activities, and inappropriate waste management can significantly threaten human health and ecosystems, and simultaneously represents the loss of resources such as primary materials and energy. How big an impact this will have depends on the amount and character of the waste, and the manner in which it is managed. Waste management is a complex task that requires good organisation abilities and cooperation among numerous participants in private and public sectors.
Waste management is based on respecting the principles of environment protection as prescribed by the laws regulating environment protection and the legal acquis of the European Union, the principles of international environment protection laws and scientific understanding, as well as best practices and rules of profession.
Of particular importance is the "polluter pays principle", which obliges all those producing waste to cover the expense of waste management measures. Also of great importance is the "nearness" principle, which defines waste treatment at the nearest appropriate building or facility in relation to the place of manage creation, taking into account economic efficiency and environmental acceptability.
The principle of "self-sufficiency" states that waste management must be conducted in a self-sufficient manner, with the necessity to allow independent realisation of goals stated at State level, while taking into account geographic circumstances or the necessity of special facilities for special categories of waste.
The principle of "traceability" is very important because it defines the determination of waste origin considering the product, packaging and producer of the product becoming waste, the ownership of waste and its treatment.
In order to prevent the creation of waste, an order of priorities has been defined, with prevention of waste creation at the top, followed by preparation for reuse, recycling, other treatment procedures such as energy treatment, and waste disposal.
By disposal of unprocessed waste, valuable primary materials and resources are buried, and future generations, which will have to finance the remediation of such sites, are stuck with the debt. The traditional linear system, in which resources are used up and valuable primary materials are finally discarded through waste are not a good solution; this is why, European Union is already turning towards a new model of Circular Economy, which should ensure that once used resources are returned into use so that maximum value could be extracted from them. A circular economic system wishes to ensure that products are designed so as to become part of a "value network", within which constant re-use of resources could be ensured.
But, how can such complex issues be simplified for the general public which is, in the cycle of circular economy, situated at the end and/or the beginning of the process.