Inert Waste Criteria

 Is my waste inert?

In principle, the EA guidance defines “inert waste” as material having insignificant leachability and pollution content which will not require laboratory analysis. (A problem arises from “other materials”, and this is explained at the bottom of this page. For a more comprehensive definition of inert waste criteria, click here and look for the Inert Waste Guidance pdf download link etc.)

For further information we suggest that as a starting point you visit the “Summary of Landfill Directive Waste Acceptance Procedures”, on the United Kingdom Parliament web site.

The United Kingdom Parliament web site also contained a table of inert materials, which we have duplicated here for convenience. (This list may change periodically – the user must ensure that he/ she checks that the information below is current and valid.)

inert waste criteria

“Other Materials” in Inert Waste

The recurring problem with inert waste is that construction and demolition wastes almost always contain other materials. The guidance on inert waste states that it “..shall not contain other material or substances such as metals, plastics etc”.

However, the Waste Management Licensing guidance does allow selected construction and demolition waste from known sources containing “low contents of other materials (eg metals, plastics, organics, wood, rubber, etc.)”. Provided that these materials must be removed from the waste before burial, and that there has been no cross-contamination of these materials into the remaining material.

It is hoped that this will continue as pollution prevention legislation is brought in.

Inert Waste References:

[The following references have not been updated so all users should verify these refs. by refering to the source documents.]

  1. No. 1056 Waste Management Licensing Regulations 1994
  2. No. 1559 Landfill (England and Wales) Regulations 2002
  3. Landfill Directive Regulatory Guidance Note 2, EA (Version 4), Nov. 2002
  4. Landfill Directive General Regulatory Guidance Note (Version 1, August 2003)
  5. Assessment of Risks to Human Health from Land Contamination EA (March 2002)
  6. Licensed Waste Management Facility Site Inspection Methodology and Consistent Scoring Guidance
  7. Waste Management, “The Duty of Care: A Code of Practice”; ISBN 0-11-753210-X published by HMSO, March 1996

Comments on wastes which may be “inert waste” include:

  • selected demolition waste – although the preferred option is to re-use and recycle this material it is usually classed as inert;
  • construction waste  – may be inert if suitably source selected/segregated. Recycling and reuse is preferred, but the small quantities generated by many building sites often makes this uneconomic;
  • uncontaminated soils and subsoils – not normally classified as a waste if reused;
  • highways carriageway waste (scrapings etc) is not listed in Table 1, as it is usually classified as hazardous unless subject to leaching tests as heavy trafficking results in contamination from tyre and oil residues etc.

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