EA announces plans to review Quality Protocols

15 AUGUST 2019

The EA has announced their plans to review all the existing Quality Protocols (QP) which were produced in 2014/15 and which provide the basis on which end-of-waste can be declared on specific waste types.

The EA's Definition of Waste Panel closed in December 2016 due to lack of funds and a large backlog although it has recently reopened but with high charges for applicants. It was then left to waste producers to consider whether they could simply apply the EU Waste Framework criteria to determine if something that had been produced as waste could then be used as a product again or a raw material or whether they should go through the IsItWaste assessment process we describe here. The complexity of this and uncertainty over likely Agency action if there was disagreement on the decision had restricted continued use and in many ways, undermines the principles of the Circular Economy and the waste hierarchy. But clearly, there need to be some controls to ensure that potentially harmful material cannot get back into the system.

The Quality Protocols were developed by industry with support from the EA for materials where there was a need for a standard process of assessment for materials that could be widely reused. The EA has stated that initially, they will be considering compost, anaerobic digestate and poultry litter ash. If they believe that the current protocols are no longer fit for purpose, they will require industry to then fund the process of renewal - including Agency time - with the threat that if they don't, the protocols will be withdrawn. This will have a massive impact and be a big step backwards in the move towards the Circular Economy.

The programme for review is as follows:

1. Quality Protocol: Compost (Review to start August 2019)
2. Quality Protocol: Anaerobic digestate (Review to start August 2019)
3. Quality Protocol: Poultry Litter Ash (Review to start August 2019)
4. Quality Protocol: Aggregate from inert waste (Planned late 2019)
5. Quality Protocol: Processed Fuel Oil (PFO) (Planned late 2019)
6. Quality Protocol: Pulverised Fuel Ash (PFA) and Furnace Bottom Ash (FBA) (Planned late 2019)
7. Quality Protocol: Tyre-derived rubber materials (Planned early 2020)
8. Biodiesel: Quality Protocol (Planned early 2020)
9. Quality Protocol: Biomethane from Waste (Planned early 2020)
10. Recycled gypsum from waste plasterboard: Quality Protocol (Planned late 2020)
11. Non-packaging plastics: Quality Protocol (Planned late 2020)
12. Aggregate from steel slag: Quality Protocol (Planned late 2020)
13. Quality Protocol: Flat Glass (Planned late 2020)