EA issues ‘resource framework’ guidance

The Environment Agency has published a guidance document revamping its quality protocol system for deciding if materials aren’t classified as waste. The new system, known as ‘resource frameworks’, will replace quality protocols (QPs) and some assessments cost as much as £40,000.

By using a ‘resource framework’, applicants will be able to identify the point at which waste, once fully recovered, becomes a non-waste product in England.

The resource framework enables waste derived material to be used in specific markets without the need for waste regulation controls

This would mean the waste-derived material can be used in specific markets without the need for waste regulation controls.

The guidance was published by Defra on Thursday (6 January).

Review

Waste quality protocols have been used as end of waste frameworks which industry can volunteer to follow. They set out the requirements for when certain wastes can become non-waste once they’ve been fully recovered. This can have an advantage in that less complex regulations would apply to the recovered materials.

The EA launched a review of this system in December 2020, and in December 2021 published an update.

The enforcement body has been undertaking a review of each QP to find out if there are any issues that need to be addressed or what the new resources framework should include.

It explained that there are 13 QPs for a range of waste-derived materials. However, these may now be out of date – for example, they might not meet current technical standards or include latest best practice.

For each QP, the EA will now decide if it will continue to support it and republish it as a resources framework on GOV.UK, if it meets current standards, or if it needs revising before we can republish it as a resources framework.

The EA could also withdraw support because it no longer meets current standards.

Reviews have already been complete for the anaerobic digestate, compost and aggregates from inert wastes sectors.

Task and finish groups have been set up and the revision process has started.

Sectors still to be reviewed include biodiesel, biomethane from waste, recycled gypsum from waste plasterboard, non-packaging plastics, aggregate from steel slag and flat glass.

Producing a new resource framework is likely to cost more than £40,000

  • Environment Agency

Framework

Thursday’s guidance was aimed at those needing to request a resource framework.

The EA warned that the time and cost involved in producing a new resource framework will vary, depending on the complexity of the request. But it’s likely to take a minimum of 12 to 18 months and cost more than £40,000, “as these are the likely total fees for the Environment Agency’s work”.

Waste firms whose QPs are no longer valid will now have to ask for a ‘resource framework’ by applying to the Environment Agency, detailing the materials or waste streams that the resource framework will apply to and where they have come from.

Companies will also have to describe the final uses or markets for the waste derived material and prepare a draft factory production control.

A list of benefits of the new framework including the annual tonnage of the waste stream, an indication of the regulatory savings that are likely to be achieved through deregulation, and the amount diverted from landfill and waste prevented will also need to be included.

If there is no resource framework or quality protocol available, waste firms must instead follow the guidance on ‘how to check if your material is waste’.

Steps

Once a resource framework is applied for, the EA will set up a technical advisory group, which will review risk assessments and financial impact documents, before launching a public consultation.

If this passes, the Environment Agency will then publish the resource framework on gov.uk.

Useful links

Defra – Request a resource framework to show when a material has ceased to be waste
Defra – Check if your material is waste

Comments

One response to “EA issues ‘resource framework’ guidance

  1. This is a promising step forward, but the fee of £40,000 is going to be off-putting to SMEs and individuals, especially as it will be non-returnable if the material being assessed fails to meet the EA’s approval.

    Perhaps that could be considered?

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