The Environment Agency (EA) has launched the first stage of an online tool to help reprocessors understand whether they have met the quality protocol (QP) for their products.
The protocols set out end-of-waste criteria, the point at which materials stop being waste and becomes a product – and therefore no longer under waste legislation.
The first stage of the tool encompasses an online checker tool for producers of compost and secondary aggregates, which are the biggest markets by tonnage out of the 11 types of secondary products that have QPs.
The demonstration project has been developed with funding as part of EQual, a £2.5m EU programme. Roger Hoare, EQual project manager at the EA, told MRW: “The QP checker is one of the outputs from that programme. The overall aim of the programme is about building the evidence base and giving industry and regulators tools to make it easier to demonstrate end-of-waste.”
Hoare said it was also timely launch as next month sees the revised QP for aggregates.
“The aggregates quality protocol is the biggest of all of the protocols and the QP programme as a whole delivers multi-billion pound benefits to business - £3.5bn in terms of increased sales and £1.5bn in terms of reduced regulatory burden, so huge savings,” he added.
The protocols cover aggregates, anaerobic digestion, compost, cooking oil, glass, lubricating oil, plasterboard, plastics, poultry litter ash, pulverized fuel ash and furnace bottom ash, and tyres. They have been launched variously between 2006-2011.
Hoare said the intention was to extend the EQual online tool to encompass other QPs over time.
The EQual online tool was launched at the RWM Exhibition 2013 in partnership with CIWM.
End-of-waste is a massive amount of opportunity for business, which also has environmental benefits, says Hoare.
He said in the past the agency erred on the side of the precautionary approach to environmental risks but was now also looking to support businesses to reap the benefits of their secondary products.
He said: “As we move towards an environment where we move towards a more efficient use of resources and support business growth, that dividing line [between environmental risk and business opportunity] is becoming ever more important to understand.”