When is a waste not a waste???…..

…..And when does a waste cease to be a waste?  Such simple questions to ask but often challenging to answer.  There is an inherent conflict in waste managment legislation where on one hand there is a need to control wastes to protect human health and the environment and on the other hand the need to be more sustainable from preventing waste to adopting a circular economy approach.

Last week saw the Enviroment Agency publish a series of research reports to characterise 15 non-waste materials as comparators for waste-derived materials. This included construction, and soil improvement materials applied to land as shown in the table below.

Table showing Construction and Soil Improvement Material Comparators for End of Waste Decisions

Material Comparator Research reports for Construction MaterialsMaterial Comparator Research Reports Materials applied to land
- concrete blocks
- natural limestone aggregate
- non-waste wood used in construction and manufacturing
- manufactured fertilisers
- non-waste biochar
- PAS 100 compost
- peat
- soil improver
- straw
The purpose of these reports is to enable comparison of the physical and chemical properties derived through the research of the non-waste versions (comparators)with other materials and waste.  In other words these reports provide a benchmark that companies and individuals can use, as part of their assessment as to whether a material  might have reached its end-of waste status or require additional treatment to do so.

For further information and to download the relevant reports or to use the accompanying waste comparator tool go to https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/defining-product-comparators-to-use-when-applying-waste-derived-materials-to-land