Blast furnace slag reclassified

The classification of slag produced in steel-making has been changed to make it easier for the construction industry to use it.

Blast Furnace Slag (BFS) will no longer will classed as a waste but a by product.

The move will cut red-tape and allow the building sector easier access to more than three million tonnes of the material produced annually in the UK.

The decision was made as part of the Waste Protocols Project (WPP) run jointly by the Environment Agency and the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP).

Martin Brocklehurst, the agency’s head of environmental protection external programmes, said: “This is good news for the industry, which contributed greatly to the technical report that helped inform this decision, and has believed for some time that BFS is a by-product not a waste.”

The move follows consultation with an advisory group involving industry members.

WPP was funded by the government’s Business Resource Efficiency and Waste Programme (BREW), which supports programmes to help businesses minimise waste and use resources more efficiently.

Its aim was to clear up uncertainty over waste and non-waste classifications and prevent some materials unnecessarily going to landfill.

It came in the wake of European Union guidance.

“Until guidance emerged from the EU Commission that clarified the distinction between by-products and wastes, BFS had been regarded by the Environment Agency as a waste,” Mr Brocklehurst said.

BFS comes from the three UK Corus steel plants, in Teesside, Scunthorpe and Port Talbot, which together.

About three quarters is converted into Ground Granulated BFS for the concrete market and the rest into air-cooled BFS, which is crushed and used in aggregates.

Dr Richard Swannell, of WRAP and joint project executive for the project, said: “Demand for BFS is high. In the UK it currently outstrips supply. This decision classifying BFS as a non-waste by-product provides much needed clarity over the material’s standing within waste regulations and removes barriers to its use.”

David Gibbs

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie