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