Environmental management – guidance

Turn your waste into a new non-waste product or material

Find out when your material achieves end of waste so you can create new products and know waste controls no longer apply.

Work out if your waste material complies with an European Union (EU) end of waste regulation or meets the end of waste test through a quality protocol or an individual assessment.

EU end of waste regulations

Your first step is to check whether your waste derived product needs to meet the requirements of an EU End of Waste Regulation. There is a regulation for the following waste types:

  • iron, steel and aluminium scrap
  • glass cullet
  • copper scrap

Find the EU End of Waste Regulations on the European Commission website.

If the EU Regulation requirements cannot be met, then it remains waste. If you can meet them, end of waste is achieved.

Meet the end of waste test

If no EU End of Waste Regulation applies to your waste derived product, you need to make an end of waste assessment on the basis of the relevant case law on end of waste. The Court of Appeal OSS end of waste test generally represents all the case law requirements for the end of waste test.

This test assesses whether:

  • the waste has been converted into a distinct and marketable product, this means:

    • the waste has been turned into a completely new product, eg a playground surface is produced from waste tyres
    • the new product is different from the original waste (minor changes to its composition may not be sufficient), eg non packaging plastic recycled material is processed to make new plastic products
    • there is a genuine market for the material so it will definitely be used – if its stored indefinitely with little prospect for use the material remains waste
  • the processed substance can be used in exactly the same way as a non-waste
  • the processed substance can be stored and used with no worse environmental effects when compared to the material it is intended to replace

Quality protocols

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland there are several quality protocols available. They are voluntary end of waste frameworks for specific wastes and end uses based on the relevant end of waste case law.

Check if a quality protocol applies to your operation. What you’re doing to your waste must meet the requirements set out in the relevant quality protocol to demonstrate end of waste.

Generally quality protocols:

  • ensure the product made from waste does not pose an unacceptable risk to human health or the environment
  • increase market confidence in the quality of products made from waste and their potential value
  • encourage greater waste recycling and recovery

For guidance on assessing whether excavated materials are classified as waste or not, or when developing or remediating land you can use the The Definition of Waste: Development Industry Code of Practice.

If your waste derived product doesn’t meet the requirements in the relevant quality protocol or meet the end of waste test, it will still be waste so you must comply with waste management controls. If you do not comply you could be committing an offence and face a penalty.

If there is no applicable quality protocol, you will need to assess whether your waste derived product meets end of waste on a case by case basis using the OSS test.

Use the quality protocol checker

Use the quality protocol (QP) checker web tool to check if your waste derived aggregate or compost is compliant with a QP and is no longer waste.

End of waste test assessment

In England, if you produce a product from waste and think it meets the end of waste test, but you’re not sure, you can apply to the Environment Agency for an opinion. You can either:

  • use the IsItWaste tool do a self assessment and opt to submit it
  • complete an end of waste submission form and send it

If you’re operating in other parts of the UK, contact your environmental regulator to find out what services they provide.

Use the IsItWaste tool

Use the IsItWaste tool to work out if your waste derived material is a non-waste by-product, has achieved end of waste or is still a waste. First, read the user guide.

Use an end of waste submission form

You need to tell us:

  • what the new product is
  • exactly what waste it is made from
  • how you treat and process the waste to make the product
  • how the properties of the new product compare with the material your product replaces
  • quantify any additional risk it presents to the environment or human health
  • your quality standard procedures
  • how it will be used

First download the appropriate submission form and use the form guidance to complete it.

Then contact either:

  • your site inspector if you have an environmental permit
  • your local Environment Agency area office
  • or the National Customer Contact Centre on 03708 506 506, call charges

They will check you’ve provided the correct information.

When the Environment Agency has all the information it needs they will tell you when the national definition of waste panel will review your submission. There is currently no charge for this assessment.

The assessments typically take up to 3 months to complete depending on the quality of the submission and how complex it is. They will keep you up-to-date with progress and may need to ask you for additional information before they can reach a view.

Note: if any of your information is confidential you need to know that if the Environment Agency receives a Freedom of Information request they may be obliged to disclose some of it.

Receive the result

The definition of waste panel will give its view on whether your material meets the end of waste test and a brief explanation why.

There is no appeal process and each case is treated on an individual basis.

If your product is no longer waste, you may also need to comply with:

  • any relevant and applicable product legislation
  • the registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals (REACH) regulations

End of waste: more information