Definition of Waste - the new Code of Practice
5 September 2008, News release from Brownfield Briefing
A long-awaited Code of Practice could put an end to needless waste on construction and regeneration projects. Brownfi eld Briefing spoke in July to David Oram, Regeneration Manager at National Grid Property Ltd
BB: Is the new Definition of Waste: Development Industry Code of Practice
the breakthrough we have been waiting for?
DO: For many years the construction industry and others have been calling for changes to the regulations on waste
that have caused the unnecessary disposal of a reusable resource. In particular industry sought clarity over when
a perfectly usable material labelled as waste can cease to be labelled as waste or indeed whether it should be so
labelled in the fi rst place.
The current proposal for the Code of Practice (CoP), which is in the fi nal stages of agreement with the Environment
Agency, offers the construction industry in England and Wales the option to signifi cantly change the way it manages
The CoP, at present, offers an alternative for two scenarios, direct reuse or recycling of material on the site at which
it was excavated, and reuse or recycling at other sites via a regulated treatment centre. Of great signifi cance is the
recognition of the UK's risk-based approach governing the suitability of soils for specifi c uses and environmental
BB: This is largely a self-regulating CoP. Is it wise to rely on the integrity of the individuals concerned and could it
mean an increase in illegal waste activity?
DO: It is often easy to lose sight of the fact that most construction waste is properly managed by responsible
The self-regulation built into the CoP does not mean the absence of regulation by the Environment Agency (EA),
and the consequences of illegal activity remain unchanged. It does offer responsible organisations an alternative
approach to reusing and recycling materials by demonstrating to the regulators that they have complied with the CoP,
which in turn should make it possible for the EA to focus its fi nite resources on those who are irresponsible with their
The draft CoP is currently limited in scope to the scenarios which are considered least susceptible to abuse. The
full potential of the Code of Practice to cover additional scenarios will not be realised if it is abused and it remains
possible for the EA to entirely withdraw its support for this initiative, both of which would ultimately be detrimental to
the industry as a whole.
BB: Materials recycling and reuse is one measure of sustainability for remediation projects. What others do you at
National Grid think carry weight in the bid to ensure sustainable remediation?
DO: We think a potential misconception about sustainable remediation is that it is all about environmental impacts.
Waste minimisation and carbon footprint are important, as is water consumption in some parts of the UK. But,
ultimately if the balance of impacts and costs of undertaking remediation are considered to be acceptable given the
economic and social benefi ts it delivers then arguably it represents a sustainable approach.
BB: If you could choose one regeneration project that you could magically complete right now, which would it be and
DO: The regeneration work on the Olympic park is the current fl agship for materials reuse and the UK plc remediation
industry, so it would be good for us as a sector to see information about the processes and technologies developed to
maximise the reuse on site published and the lessons learned applied to future projects.
BB: What brownfi eld related innovation/development do you want to know more about right now?
DO: Following the publication of Guidance on Comparing Soil Contamination Data with a Critical Concentration,
which is the fi rst output of the Way Forward initiative, it would be helpful to see the remainder of this work concluded
as soon as possible to bring a greater certainty to decision-making in the assessment and management of land
David Oram will be speaking at Brownfi eld Briefi ng's Contaminated Land and Brownfi eld Remediation Conference,
16-17 September 2008. National Grid Property is sponsoring the Award for 'Recovery of land for heritage/community
use' at the 2008 Remediation Innovation Awards. For more information or to book, please contact us (details below)
For further information please email Brownfield Briefing