Industry debates EU end of waste criteria

Figures from the glass, organics, paper and plastics recycling sectors debated the current status of EU end of waste criteria for different materials in London yesterday (January 30).

At the End of Waste conference organised by letsrecycle.com, concerns were raised about the EU criteria for paper and also that the status for glass is only eligible for materials used in remelt.

(l-r) 360 Environmental's Phil Conran chaired the panel, with CPI's Stuart Pohler, FERVER's Ulrich Ix and WRAP's Nina Sweet
(l-r) 360 Environmental’s Phil Conran chaired the panel, with CPI’s Stuart Pohler, FERVER’s Ulrich Ix and WRAP’s Nina Sweet

Speaking at the conference, Ulrich Ix, president of FERVER the European Federation of Glass Recyclers, which has 32 members in 16 countries emphasised the benefits of end of waste criteria for glass cullet, which came into force in June 2013 (see letsrecycle.com story).

But, he cautioned that as it stands, only one certification body is currently thought to be close to gaining accreditation from UKAS (United Kingdom Accreditation Service).

Mr Ix explained that end of waste for glass was of considerabe beneifit for exporters, which meant there was no need for Annex VII forms and dockside waste rules did not apply.

He said: End of waste makes it much easier for us because most of our members are cross-bordered and from a regulatory point of view it is very important.

However, one issue was highlighted by Karen John, director of Glass Tech Recycling, who stated that it was not fair that she was unable to apply for end of waste status if the glass was not going to remelt applications.

In response, Mr Ix agreed that a drawback of the current end of waste regulations in Europe for glass was that they are only applicable for remelting processes: That is what we are complaining about.

‘Commingled results in worse quality in the UK. When you see how it is handled through crushing that is not correct.’

Ulrich Ix, president of FERVER

Mr Ix also joked that it took him centuries to understand 50% of the logic behind PRNs but I think I am generally there now, but added that PRN value for glass is probably of more importance than end of waste.

Organics

Speaking later, organics sector specialist at the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP), Nina Sweet, provided an update on end of waste status for biowaste.

She explained that the European Commission had asked the Joint Research Centre to develop proposed end of waste criteria three years ago, but that the process was still taking some time.

Dr Sweet added that the JRC had just sent its final report to WRAP for consultation this month, but that she was not convinced of the rationale for criteria for biowaste, or whether its benefits would outweigh the costs involved. There would therefore need to be some negotiation from the UKs point of view.

She said: We have got some issues with the document we have been forwarded. We are not convinced I think is the bottom line.

Her presentation came on the same day that the Environment Agency launched a Quality Protocol (QP) for biomethane, which sets out end of waste criteria for the production and use of biomethane arising from the degradation of organic wastes in a landfill site or anaerobic digestion (AD) plant.

‘2013 was a bit of a damp squib in terms of legislative progress with regards to the quality agenda. End of waste for paper is now at the very least dormant …’

Stuart Pohler, recovered paper sector manager at the Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI)

The QP enables the injection of the gas into the grid or use in an appliance suitably designed and operated for natural gas, without the need for waste regulatory controls.

Paper

Also speaking at the conference was Stuart Pohler, recovered paper sector manager at the Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI), who provided an overview of the debate surrounding MEPs recent vetoing of proposals to change end of waste criteria for recovered paper.

He said: 2013 was a bit of a damp squib in terms of legislative progress with regards to the quality agenda. End of waste for paper is now at the very least dormant and we will have to rely on the domestic front to provide a framework for improving material quality.

MEPs strongly opposed the draft paper measures in December 2013 by 606 votes to 77 (see letsrecycle.com story) amid concerns that the criteria would lead to a reduction in quality and recycling rates, marking the first time a piece of environmental legislation has been voted down by the European Parliament.

Responding to strong concerns from the floor about this decision, Mr Pohler said: On this idea of the atrocity of this first piece of environmental legislation not being passed well just because something is environmental legislation does not immediately mean it is going to be good environmental legislation, and we saw a lot of flaws in the legislation.

On Metals, one of the few areas where end of waste has been reached, former BMRA chief executive David Hulse said that it had not yet been taken up in the UK. He challenged Environment Agency official Roger Hoare over what he perceived as a failure by the Agency to engage on this and won Mr Hoare’s support to discuss the matter further.

Plastics

The conference also heard from Peter Davis, director-general at the plastics sector trade body the British Plastics Federation (BPF), who outlined the issues currently being debated around end of waste criteria for plastics.

Mr Davis told delegates that discussions over end of waste for plastic are still ongoing at European level over the limit level for non-plastics contamination which has been set at 2% – and the content of substances of very high concern and hazardous waste input.

He said: We feel the discussions are going the right way and the Commission understands our view. The Commission has to clear up the definitions and ensure there are no gaps. We expect a report on the proposals in March.

Delegates also heard from Paul Caldwell, business development manager at Industrial Quality Recycling (IQR) Solutions who discussed quality standards of refuse derived fuels and Iris Soler, national environmental permitting manager at Veolia Environmental Services who outlined the opportunities for waste management firms in adopting end of waste criteria.

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