22nd August 2019
This month the Environment Agency (EA) has announced it will conduct a full comprehensive review of the End of Waste Framework. The agency will spend the next 12-18 months scrutinising the current Quality Protocols (of which there are 13), with the potential outcomes meaning an anxious wait for waste producers (WPs). 4R Group will update you throughout with progress of reviews and the ramifications of each decision that is announced.
Update: As of the start of October there have been no announcements from the EA regarding progress with the review process. Through our communications, we know the EA schedule will be slightly delayed but a call for evidence for the first 3 reviews is imminent so watch this space!
What is the current state of QPs?
Between 2004 and 2015, the EA published Quality Protocol’s (QPs) for a range of materials to be regarded as ‘end of waste’. These frameworks mean that waste derived material, after meeting certain technical and legal standards, can be used as non-waste products in specified markets. Being outside of waste regulation controls makes the processing of these products much smoother, and often cheaper, whilst still being safe to users and the environment.
Why the Review Now?
The QPs will be reviewed in stages, starting with compost, anaerobic digestate and poultry litter ash. Product-grade materials, in particular those associated with land spreading have come under fire recently with concerns about physical contamination, in particular plastics and micro plastics and the due diligence surrounding their use.
Society is increasingly become more environmentally conscious and aware about our wastes, leading to more articles and features in the media. This has brought a new focus onto the issues involved with waste-derived products, of which the QPs form a key part of the regulatory mechanism permitting their end use.
Alongside fresh attention from the public, technical and legal standards are continually moving on, and whilst associated specifications have undergone several reviews, ever-improving technologies of the waste industry have rendered some QPs out of date. All of this has led to the EA’s decision to overhaul the End of Waste Framework.