Environment Agency unveil online quality assessment tool
New Quality Protocol Checker web tool launched to support recycled aggregates producers
THE Quality Protocol Checker – a new online tool to help producers of quality recycled aggregates – provides an easy step-by-step guide for suppliers to assess whether their product meets the requirements of the relevant Quality Protocol (QP) and has achieved ‘End-of Waste’ status. As well as improving clarity around QP procedures, the tool creates a user report that documents performance and pinpoints any areas where improvement is needed.
The QP Checker tool has been developed as part of the EU Life+ funded EQual programme, an Environment Agency-led partnership project which aims to encourage quality products made from waste through smart online tools and better data. For the aggregates industry, the aim is to provide new producers with an easy-to-use quality checklist and feedback to help them meet the necessary QP requirements.
The tool can also be used as an internal audit check for established QP-compliant producers and provides a template for regulatory enforcement officers to underpin a more consistent compliance regime. Developed in close co-operation with WRAP and other industry bodies, the tool was launched in prototype form in Autumn 2013 for a six-month open testing phase and has been met with a very positive industry response.
‘The recent publication of the new version of the QP for aggregates from inert waste provided more detailed guidance on the procedures required for recycled aggregates to achieve End-of-Waste,’ says John Barritt, WRAP’s special advisor-built environment. ‘This on-line QP checker tool is a valuable resource to assist recycled aggregates producers in developing new quality management systems, and auditing existing systems, to ensure compliance with the new Aggregates QP.’
John Bradshaw-Bullock, technical adviser to the MPA’s Aggregates, Asphalt and Slag Product Groups, added: ‘Through a series of 20 focused questions, this easy-to-use tool readily identifies whether the recycling operation – which includes the receipt, selection and processing supported by confirmatory testing of the final product – is sufficient to ensure that the aggregate has achieved End-of-Waste and has, therefore, been legitimately removed from the waste steam. It is important to ensure that recycled aggregates gain maximum credibility and use within the market and this tool facilitates that process.”
The UK aggregates industry produces around 200 million tonnes of material a year and is growing, with recycled aggregates accounting for around 23% of the market.
‘High-quality recycled aggregates not only benefit the environment; they also benefit producers’ bottom line through improved profit margins,’ explained Roger Hoare, environment and business manager at the Environment Agency.
‘By supporting producers who opt for QP compliance, we hope to encourage market growth and end-user confidence. The EQual programme is also helping regulators to promote greater resource efficiency by supporting a clear and consistent regulatory framework to assist with wider End-of-Waste decision making and compliance assessment.’
The QP Checker tool is currently available for compost and recycled aggregates, but the intention is that industry stakeholders with an interest in other QP waste streams will take it forward and tailor it to their own needs. Work is already underway on a QP Checker for digestate from anaerobic digestion, and there is interest from other sectors including pulverized fuel ash.