Government promotes circular economy with new waste assessment tool

The Environment Agency (EA) has launched the IsItWaste assessment tool to help businesses in England identify whether a waste material is a by-product or holds 'end-of-waste' status.

Developed as part of the EU LIFE+ funded ‘Ensuring Quality’ of waste-derived products (EQual) programme, the web-based IsItWaste tool takes users through key decision stages including material composition, risk assessment, product use and end markets. It can also be used to submit an application to the Environment Agency’s Definition of Waste panel for a formal decision if need be.

Commenting on the launch, Resource Management Minister Dan Rogerson said: “This government is committed to ensuring we use our resources more carefully and the UK is now producing less waste than ever before. This reflects a lot of hard work by local authorities and businesses, and a desire from householders to cut down on waste.

“We all have a responsibility to tackle waste and I congratulate the Environment Agency and their partners on the new ‘Is It Waste’ service which can help businesses save money and create new products from existing materials to generate growth and new jobs.”

Using a series of ‘yes’, ‘no’ and ‘don’t know’ questions and prompts where additional information is needed the tool provides the user with a PDF report once the assessment is complete.

Speaking at the launch event in the Palace of Westminster, EA chief executive Paul Leinster said: “The… IsItWaste tool… helps businesses navigate a complex area of legislation as they seek to transform their waste into useful products. This has environmental and economic benefits.”

Circular economy

The Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) is one of the programme partners. The organisation’s chief executive Steve Lee said: “Deriving value from waste materials by turning them back into safe, high quality products is an essential element in the move towards a more circular economy.

“Offering both economic and environmental benefits if supported and regulated appropriately, waste-derived products improve business resource efficiency and competitiveness, reduce reliance on landfill, and help to conserve virgin raw materials.”

Other business support measures introduced by EA in the area of waste legislation include 12 quality protocols laying out the quality requirements for certain waste-derived products to achieve ‘end-of-waste’ status.

So far the UK quality protocols programme has resulted in:

– approximately 40 million tonnes of materials diverted from landfill
– savings of around 77 million tonnes of virgin raw materials
– approximately 306,000 tonnes of carbon avoided

Lois Vallely

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