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In light of the latest rulings from the European Court of Justice, the Italian Supreme Court recently broke away from the traditional interpretation of the term 'waste' by excluding from the scope of application of waste legislation substances to which the owner attributes an economic value. These materials must be considered not as waste, but rather as commercial products.
Two recent decrees have implemented the EU Landfill Directive, which aims to prevent any negative effects that the landfill of waste may have on the environment and on human health. Among other things, the decrees classify the different types of landfill and list the types of waste that may be disposed of in this way.
The Parliament has approved a bill proposing an ambitious reform of environmental legislation. The bill has been welcomed by some, as it will simplify the legislative framework and remove inconsistencies and uncertainties in environmental regulation. However, others have criticized it as overly complex and claim that the powers it gives the government are too far-reaching.
A recent decree provides the definitive interpretation of the term 'waste' as it is used in Italian law. However, the European Commission has complained that this definition is not in accordance with EU law, because under the definition substances which are capable of economically viable reutilization are not regarded as waste.
The European Commission has approved an Italian decree which exempts undertakings involved in the recovery of hazardous waste from the need to obtain a permit before commencing operations. It is thought that this will help to encourage the recycling and reuse of certain types of hazardous waste.
Two draft bills aimed at introducing class actions in Italy were recently presented to Parliament. Both are aimed at providing consumers affected by the same unlawful event with greater legal protection, but one explicitly allows for class proceedings in respect of tort as well as contract claims. In principle, this would open the door to class claims against product manufacturers and distributors.
In a ruling deciding a claim for damages the Italian Supreme Court confirmed that a claimant seeking compensation for damage caused by a defective product can rely on national principles of negligence as well as the laws implementing the Product Liability Directive.