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Sector unhappy at 'no change' decision on APCr

Waste managers have criticised Defra’s decision not to change the status quo over air pollution control residues (APCr) going to landfill.

Following a consultation in 2016, the department has announced it will not withdraw a derogation which allows APCr not meeting waste acceptance criteria to go to hazardous waste landfill sites (the ‘3xWAC derogation’).

The Environmental Services Association (ESA) said it was disappointed the derogation was to stay, when removal had been first suggested in Defra’s hazardous waste strategy in 2010.

ESA executive director Jacob Hayler said: “Since that time, ESA and its members have worked with Defra and Environment Agency officials to reach workable proposals for an orderly phasing out of the derogation and a gradual transition to new techniques for the recovery of APCr into useful products.

“While it is useful finally to have some clarity after this lengthy period, it is disappointing that ministers have decided not to phase it out after all.”

He argued that the decision would not help investment in alternative treatment technologies for APCr.

These include the Carbon8 aggregate blocks (pictured) which won the Best Recycled Product category at MRW’s National Recycling Awards in 2013.

Another product has been developed by Tetronics International, whereby synthetic lightning treats APCr thermally, transforming it into a glass-like material. 

In an article in MRW in June 2016, Graeme Rumbol, chief executive of Tetronics International, said 2-5% of the mass of waste incinerated typically becomes APCr.

An annual total of 300,000 tonnes was expected to rise to 500,000 tonnes by 2020-21, making APCr one of the UK’s fastest growing hazardous waste streams.

Rumbol wrote at the time: “The EU’s 2008 Waste Directive set out stringent waste acceptance criteria intended to make this harmful practice illegal. However, at the time, there was a widespread view in Whitehall and the industry that there was no alternative, so the Government introduced 3xWAC derogations.

“If WAC derogations are removed, it would unlock significant investment and give a massive boost to the industry.

“The move would also improve the image of the energy-from-waste industry. By sending no waste to landfill and putting APCr to use as a source of recoverable materials, EfW plants can truly say they are an essential cog in the circular economy.”

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