29 September 2021

New guidance has been published (31st August 2021) by the Environment Agency (EA) with regard to “When a material is waste, is a by-product or meets ‘End of Waste’ Status”.

In this article I am going to focus on the subject of ‘End of Waste’ status as this is likely to be of interest to waste operators who wish to sell a recycled product – as a product and not waste. If the recycled product is not covered by a published Quality Protocol then there can be uncertainty over the waste status of the recycled material.

Going back a few years the EA had an end of waste panel to which applications could be made to get an opinion from the regulator as to whether they agreed that the end of waste test could be/ had been met. In my experience few applications submitted to the panel were approved, while many were left without conclusion. This panel closed and since then there has been no system in place to get a view on end of waste.

I have mentioned above the ‘end of waste’ test. Essentially, materials will be considered to have reached end of waste if:

  • There is a clear use for the material.
  • A market exists for that material.
  • The material meets all the relevant technical requirements, standards and legislation.
  • The material has no overall adverse effect on environmental or human health.

It’s good news that the EA have re-opened this service. So, let’s see what it looks like:

  • Unlike the previous service, an application to the Definition of Waste Service has to be paid for. The cost is estimated by the EA based on a review of pre-application advice provided by the applicant.
  • The application is made by completing a form that contains a significant amount of information however, the EA will provide initial free advice on what that information should include.
  • The application requires a good amount of information on testing and assessment of the product.
  • Ideally you will have selected a comparator product and completed a detailed comparison of the environmental impact of the use of your product and the comparator product. If there is no relevant comparator, then more assessment on the potential adverse environmental or human health impacts will have to be included in the application.
  • Information on the market for the new product is required to be included in the application.
  • This is not an exhaustive list but aims to give you a flavour of the application requirements.

Due to the obligation of public authorities to disclose information to the public there is no guarantee that the information you provide, in an end of waste application, will be kept confidential.

However, there is no absolute requirement to go through this application process since you are not obliged to get a view from a regulator on whether your material has reached end of waste. You can self-assess. As you can imagine, selling a product based on a self-assessment is subject to uncertainty that, should the Environment Agency check your self-assessment, they may disagree with the result. You may then be liable for unlawfully sending out waste without a waste transfer note and your customers may have used waste without necessary permits etc.

So, it’s not an easy process to navigate and there are no guarantees but at least now there is a way to get end of waste applications viewed and commented on by the regulator.

Westbury Environmental Limited have worked on a number of end of waste applications for our clients. Please do get in touch if you wish to discuss this subject further admin@westburyenv.co.uk. Whilst we have no scheduled webinar on this subject at present, it is likely that we will do soon. In the meantime, visit the Knowledge Centre on our website for recordings of previous webinars on typical challenges faced by waste operators.