Recycled aggregates – “Product” or “Waste”?

QP Aggregates CoverAggregates manufactured from inert wastes remain waste unless the recycling process meets specific criteria to comply with the EU End of Waste Regulations. These give two options for determining whether a material has ceased to be waste:

  • Comply with a Quality Protocol, or
  • Establish that your process achieves product-equivalence by carrying out an “end of waste assessment” and agree it with the regulator, which, in the UK would be one of the Environment Agencies (EA / SEPA / NIEA / NRW)

Fortunately, in the UK, there is a Quality Protocol for aggregates (click on the image) and providing your supplier complies with it (and can, if challenged, demonstrate compliance), the aggregates you buy will be considered to be “product” rather than “waste”, and you need concern yourself no further. But needless to say, if your supplier does not, the material you receive is still legally “waste” and all the requirements of UK waste legislation apply to it, for example the Waste Duty of Care (Carriers Licences, WTNs, etc), and Waste Permitting (U1 Waste exemptions).

Checking is simple. In addition to a number of other delivery documentation requirements, Clause 3.3.2 of the Protocol states that:

“The delivery documentation must include: … a statement that the product was produced in compliance with this Quality Protocol”

and details further documentation that should be provided when requested by the purchaser such as test results to demonstrate compliance with specific criteria (detailed in Appendix B) depending upon the end use, the Factory Production Control manual, etc – in other words not only to say it complies, but also to be able to prove it if necessary.

So, what did you ask for when you bought the last load, and what did it say on your last delivery note? Oh, and the same requirements apply if you crush your own waste into aggregates for the piling mat, or haul road – did you turn it into a “product”, or was it “waste” you used on site?

Asbestos in recycled aggregates

A couple of times recently I’ve been asked what to do if you find fragments of cement-bound fibrous materials you suspect to be AC sheeting in recycled aggregates bought for use as hardcore on construction projects. My advice is always to test / reject it if you can before offloading (and preferably while it’s still on the supplier’s premises!), but otherwise to quarantine it on site until it has been properly tested.

WM2 coverThe key question is whether or not the material contains significant quantities of asbestos, as if it does, it is hazardous waste and is unsuitable to be used on site under a U1 waste exemption. (Disposal of it anywhere other than at an appropriately licensed Hazardous Waste disposal site is an illegal activity.) Guidance on the assessment of this in the UK can be found in Appendix A Example 17 (page A59) of the Environment Agencies’ Technical Guidance WM2 “Hazardous Waste. Interpretation of the definition and classification of hazardous waste” (3rd Ed, 2013) which sets down two tests:

  • If the material contains fibres that are free and dispersed, the material will be hazardous waste if as a whole it contains more than 0.1% asbestos.
  • If it is suspected there are pieces of asbestos containing materials (ACM) in the hardcore, the pieces themselves must also be tested, and again the whole of the load is considered to be hazardous waste if any fragment contains more than 0.1% asbestos. Guidance on the minimum size of fragment that must be assessed is given as “any particle of a size that can be assessed as potentially being asbestos by a competent person if examined by the naked eye”. So, close rather than superficial inspection is a must when considering this test.

If the material fails either of these tests it is Hazardous Waste rather than “recycled aggregates” and should be rejected before delivery or otherwise returned to the supplier. It’s always advisable to go and look at recycled hardcore beforehand if you can, and if you spot anything suspicious, ask for it to be tested before delivery. A good quality assurance scheme, such as purchasing from a company that supplies aggregates certified to the WRAP AggRegain Aggregates Protocol should go a long way to avoiding having to deal with these issues on site.