The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) publication of the National End-of-Waste Criteria Decision EoW-N001/2023 is intended to support aggregate producers in embracing a more circular economy. It will also help reduce the extraction of natural resources such as rock, soil and stone.
EPA End of Waste Criteria
End-of-waste is a system that ensures material recycled from waste is safe to be used again as a product. The long-awaited publication of the National End-of-Waste Decision EoW-N001/2023 by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) establishes criteria determining when recycled aggregate resulting from a recovery operation ceases to be waste.
There is a strong demand for recycled aggregates in Ireland to support the development of new infrastructure and reduce the carbon footprint of infrastructure projects. The criteria allow for the replacement of virgin aggregates with recycled aggregates in uses such as general fill, road construction, railway ballast and other non-structural uses. The criteria apply to aggregates recycled from construction and demolition waste, including soil, stone, concrete, bricks, and ceramics.
The publication of the criteria creates a level field for producers that are recycling demolition waste into aggregates. The criteria will help tackle construction waste, which accounts for 50% of total waste by weight produced in the country –our largest waste stream – and support the development of markets for recycled aggregates. It also provides resolution for some 27 producers awaiting single-case decisions from the EPA regarding end-of-waste criteria.
National end-of-waste criteria have a requirement to hold a waste authorisation for the recovery of this waste type and include further requirements on:
- The recovery process,
- The types of waste that can be used to produce recycled aggregates,
- Technical and environmental quality of the recycled aggregate, including associated testing, and
A comprehensive description of all criteria can be found on the EPA website at (www.epa.ie)
Requirements for recycled aggregate producers
Any producer of recycled aggregates in accordance with these criteria must register as a producer on the EPA’s public register. A producer must hold an appropriate waste authorisation for the recovery activity. The register will enable buyers to confidently choose a registered supplier of quality recycled aggregates. End-of-waste criteria for recycled aggregates will also support national green procurement ambitions.
The producer must also report tonnages of recycled aggregates produced per annum every year as part of an annual report for the waste authorisation under which the material is produced.
Reducing construction’s carbon footprint
Keeping materials in use is one of the fundamental elements of a circular economy. The new criteria support and facilitate increased recycling in the construction, demolition and waste sectors, allowing for the reuse of these resources instead of the extraction of new ones.
Recycled aggregate has a lower carbon footprint compared to quarried materials. Quarried stone and sand is carbon intensive and typically has much higher land, water, and energy use compared to the production of recycled aggregates.
Commenting on the criteria, Micheál Lehane, Director, Office of Environmental Sustainability, said: “The publication of national end-of-waste criteria for recycled aggregates is a significant milestone for both the EPA and industry. The criteria will help tackle construction waste, the largest waste stream in the country and support the development of markets for recyclable materials. This is the type of progress which is needed if Ireland is to move in a meaningful way from the linear to the circular economy.”
End-of-waste criteria for recycled aggregates will support national green procurement ambitions.
Warren Phelan, Programme Manager of the EPA’s Circular Economy Programme, commented, “The publication of the criteria shows the EPA’s commitment to streamlining the regulation of secondary products. This represents a shift away from the assessment of case-by-case applications to a national criteria available to all authorised producers. These criteria will introduce a level playing field for industry and a single set of rules that are easy to implement.”
The EPA calls on industry and the waste sector now to adopt, implement and build upon the criteria established.
Further information on the new criteria can be found on the following webpages