Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of MRW, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

EA service withdrawal questioned

Defra has been challenged over the closure by the Environment Agency (EA) of its definition of waste panel.

Yorkshire horticultural firm Rolawn said the removal of the service, for assessing whether materials can be classified as waste, could have a detrimental effect on its business.

The company’s ProMulch product was launched in 2010 and sold until 2013 when the EA reversed its previous assessment of one of the ingredients.

Iron-based clean water sludge residue used in the product was reclassified as a waste rather than a by-product, forcing Rolawn to stop selling it. Since then, the company has submitted a number of applications to the panel, which have all been rejected.

In September the panel was closed temporarily and this was made indefinite in December. The EA advised businesses using the service, which was manned by eight staff, to access a self-assessment tool called IsItWaste.

A Rolawn spokesperson said: ”The IsItWaste tool is unlikely to be appropriate for ProMulch. Given the previous work, which is significant, there are matters which need discussion and engagement with the EA as the opinions of Rolawn’s legal and technical experts differ in some areas from those of the EA.

“An online self-assessment tool will not provide the required level of detail nor dialogue to guide a successful re-submission.”

Its inability to sell ProMulch has led to the loss of an estimated £1m per annum revenue and redundancies and put investment plans on hold.

Rolawn’s representatives have shared their concerns with a few MPs including Efra committee member Paul Monaghan.

Monaghan raised the issue in Parliament on 20 December where he asked environment secretary Andrea Leadsom: “What steps her department is taking to remove barriers to a more resource-efficient economy; and if she will encourage the EA to reopen its online definition of waste tool to new submissions.”

Leadsom is yet to respond.

Speaking to MRW, Monaghan (pictured below) said it was his intention to establish the facts.

“I understand that because there is no regulatory framework or process of approval such sludge must otherwise be managed and treated as waste and disposed of rather than converted. I understand that some of this waste is therefore sent to landfill.

“If true this situation would clearly be unhelpful.”

An article by the company’s managing director Paul Dawson will appear in MRW’s February 2017 issue

Paul monaghan

Paul monaghan

Readers' comments (1)

  • The closure of the Panel now allows - requires - businesses to make their own determination. Three key criteria must be met:
    - the waste has been converted into a distinct and marketable product for which there is a genuine market
    - the processed substance can be used in exactly the same way as a non-waste
    - the processed substance can be stored and used with no worse environmental effects when compared to the material it is intended to replace
    If ProMulch meets these conditions, then it is difficult to see how the EA can legally prevent its use?
    The Panel's assessment process, as I understand it, would often consider environmental risk on a purely analytical basis rather than in the context of the natural environment in which the product would be used. The demise of the Panel now gives businesses the opportunity to apply the context test and surely this must be what the waste hierarchy and the Circular Economy is all about? Are the EA going to fight a case legally where there is no detrimental environmental outcome?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.