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Checking for end-of-waste

Date: 18/09/2013 | Author: Paul Sanderson

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A new tool can help companies assess their product for end-of-waste criteria

A Quality Protocol (QP) checker web tool for aggregates and compost was recently launched at RWM to help companies see if they are compliant with end-of-waste criteria.

This means that companies that comply with the criteria of QPs can fully recover a product without undermining the effective of the EU Waste Framework Directive and therefore don’t need waste management controls.

EQual is an Environment Agency-led EU LIFE+ programme that aims to encourage the use of products made from waste and has launched the online support tool for user testing.

Quality Protocols set out end-of-waste criteria for the production and use of a product from a specific waste type.

Developed initially for compost and secondary aggregate producers, the QP Checker web tool offers users an easy, step-by-step guide for companies to check whether their waste-derived products meet the necessary relevant QP requirements.

As well as improving clarity around QP procedures, the web tool creates a user report that documents performance and pinpoints areas where improvement is needed.

It also provides a template for regulatory enforcement officers to support producers who are working towards achieving a quality standard, and underpin a more consistent compliance regime.

Aimed at encouraging the production and uptake of QP compliant products, the tool will save time and money by providing valuable guidance to operators before they go through any formal process of being audited against the requirements of a QP and any underpinning specifications such as PAS100 for compost.

“We believe that this initiative will provide regulators and industry with the tools to help maximise the opportunity that end-of-waste Quality Protocol presents,” says Environment Agency programme manager Roger Hoare. “The QP check provides clarity regarding when end-of-waste is achieved, helping to support a more consistent regulatory approach and improve market confidence in waste-derived products.

“It is also very timely given the launch next month of the revised QP for aggregates.”

He adds that there are enormous benefits to be had to the UK economy with a benefit of £3.5 billion to business derived from the relatively small QP programme.

The online tool involves just 25 questions to begin with. If companies feel they then meet end-of-waste requirements for their product, then they can get expertise from the end-of-waste panel that gives its opinion on whether a business meets the criteria.

“We are working to develop an online assessment tool for specific company compliance as there will be value in getting the regulator’s view,” he adds.  “Companies can’t get money from investors on potential end-of-waste products unless the regulator gives a view, so this could be an essential tool.”

Last year 60 companies applied for the view of the panel and around 30 per cent of these were successful.

“These are companies at the boundaries of what is going on, so we have to make sure the applications are right,” he says.

“It takes about two to three months from application to opinion, although sometimes it can take up to a year depending on the level of detail required.

“We can help companies prepare towards a formal opinion, and hope to give them more information to ensure they can submit more efficient applications.

“This is supported by workshops that were held last year and have helped to streamline the online tool and give it more ease of use.”

One area of criticism of end-of-waste has been that there isn’t an appeals process and it is too opaque on how decisions are arrived at for those that have been unsuccessful.

“We are looking into an appeal process and Defra wants us to do it. So we are looking at mechanisms that don’t require escalation to government, which would be the appeals process effectively now,” he says.

Eventually, the Environment Agency will have the tool for other QPs including biodegradable waste anaerobic digestate and compost, cooking oil, glass, lubricating oil, plasterboard, plastics, poulty litter ash, pulverised fuel ash and furnace bottom ash and tyres.

Cemex product quality director for cement and building products John Lay is impressed by the new tool.

“The QP Checker for aggregates is a very straightforward and easy to use tool. It certainly gave us a nudge and a prod in a couple of areas,” he says.

“If this was made available to all it would certainly raise the bar and ensure compliance to the requirements, to the benefit of all responsible businesses like Cemex and the environment.”

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