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Finally the judgement has been issued on the long-running Savini case. President Mancini has given the Court of Justice’s verdict in the landmark case against Anselmo Savini, an Italian who was charged with transporting scrap metal from one company to another without the necessary documentation required under local laws for waste transportation.

Savini was originally charged under Italian law, but the case was eventually referred to the European Court of Justice. The argument against Savini’s conviction was that the material he was transporting was of commercial value and was, in fact, on its way to be reprocessed, therefore it should not have been subject to laws designed to control the transport of waste. Unfortunately, the judgement of 25th June 1997, states that the EU legislation covering waste “is not to be understood as excluding substances and objects which are capable of economic reutilization, even if the materials in question may be the subject of a transaction or quoted on public or private commercial lists.” As we understand it, in simple terms this means that scrap metals are classed in the same category as waste being sent to landfill. In even simpler terms, a lorryload of scrap copper worth thousands of pounds is subject to the same laws as a refuse truck full of dirty nappies and used biros.

Surely, the law should take into account the difference between the two? Only a few weeks ago, the US EPA ruled that the majority of scrap metals should be removed from the waste category, yet in Europe, common-sense is obviously superfluous to requirements. The repercussions of this case will affect all aspects of the recycling industries. The pending legal challenge to the UK definition of waste may also be a casualty of European stupidity.

The European Court of Justice seems to be a justice-free zone, we must hope that the UK courts prove wiser. We can only speculate on the reasons behind the Savini ruling: politics, bureaucracy, ignorance, take your pick. As this magazine went to press, the British Secondary Metals Association, who financially supported Anselmo Savini in his fight for justice, were consulting with Savini’s lawyer, Lord Kingsland on the issue. I hope that justice is eventually seen to be done.