Waste classification – an often misunderstood process!

Waste classification – an often misunderstood process!

Waste classification is a common requirement in the construction industry, needed to determine how and where waste materials are disposed of. The correct classification of waste is a legal requirement, and regulators can (and have) imposed fines against those who don’t comply with waste regulation.

Waste classification is a two-stage process; before the more familiar Waste Acceptance Criteria (WAC) test, which determines the type of facility that can accept the waste, a general suite of contaminants are tested for, to determine whether the material is hazardous or non-hazardous, and to provide a List of Waste code. The testing suite may vary, depending on the anticipated contaminants, but will usually comprise metals, hydrocarbons and asbestos. It’s important to remember that, in accordance with WM3, WAC testing alone cannot be used to classify waste material.

How many samples to test depends on a number of variables, including the volume, type and consistency of the soil. Different soil types, such as made ground and natural deposits, should be treated as separate populations, and tested accordingly. If contamination hotspots have been identified, the material is likely to classified differently to surrounding soils, and should also be considered separately.

The disposal of waste soils should be the last resort – not only is it more sustainable to reuse soils, but it is also likely to be cheaper. It may be possible to reuse the material on site, or at another site, using the CL:AIRE Definition of Waste Code of Practice, or a U1 exemption.

Get in touch with GB Card & Partners for advice on waste classification, Materials Management Plans and soils reuse.