EA Publishes New Definition Of Waste Guidance

Following a review of its ‘Legal Definition of Waste – general guide to businesses’ document, a new version has now been published by the Environment Agency

The updated guidance (available here) was prompted by responses to the ‘Cutting Red Tape’ Review of the waste sector and the Defra’s Smarter Guidance Project,  part of the Government’s Smarter Environmental Regulation Review, designed to help reduce the regulatory burden on business.

The aim of the review was to restructure and improve the existing guidance, making it more simple and clearer for businesses, organisations and charities, and it now also incorporates the concepts of reuse, recycling and recovery and the waste hierarchy in order to promote waste prevention.

Importantly, however, the Agency says that there is “no change to our interpretation of the law on the definition of waste.”

The updates include identifying when waste rules apply and relevant exclusions; the activities and operations where waste rules apply;she  waste rules don’t apply; and when waste ceases to be a waste.

Under the section about when waste rules don’t apply, the new guidance covers reuse. It lists examples of reuse as:

  • donating goods to a charity or second hand shop, eg clothes, books, toys, and CDs in re-usable condition
  • items that are leased and used several times by a number of people as long as they are fit for re-use
  • a wooden pallet being reused as a pallet as long as it is fit for re-use as a pallet
  • roof tiles carefully removed from one building, stored to retain their integrity and then certain to be fitted onto another building’s roof
  • networks where people can give away items for free that are fit for re-use
  • when a charity or second-hand shop receives items, checks them and carries out a very minor repair to ensure its reuse as originally intended, eg if a button is sewn onto a coat or a handle is screwed back onto a drawer.


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