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Comments invited on paper sludge recycling proposals

Plan will divert paper sludge ash from landfill and ease regulatory burden on business

Proposals aimed at making it easier to recycle paper sludge ash (PSA) and divert a minimum 300,000 tonnes per year from landfill were today (19 December 2008) announced by the Waste Protocols Project – a joint Environment Agency and WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) initiative.

Now trade and industry are being urged to comment on the draft Quality Protocol for the manufacture of products from PSA – the boiler ash residue left over from burning paper sludge for energy.

UK paper mills generate125,000 tonnes of PSA annually. Currently 70% – or 88,000 tonnes – goes to end uses, such as brick and cement manufacturers while the remaining 30% is landfilled.

However, despite the current economic downturn, the size of the UK paper market is growing. Expansion is planned at existing mills and two new newsprint mills will be operating in 2009 and 2010 – potentially increasing the amount of PSA generated significantly.

Marcus Gover, WRAP's Director of Market Development, said: “Sending PSA to landfill is a waste of a potentially useful resource. All of our research indicates this Protocol will provide users with confidence that the PSA they purchase conforms to agreed quality standards and help stimulate the market.

“PSA can be used as a lime substitute and aggregates filler and the Quality Protocol outlines various ways that PSA can be recycled including in agricultural liming, concrete blocks and cement. The minimum potential market for PSA is conservatively estimated at 300,000 tonnes per year.”

Martin Brocklehurst, the Environment Agency's Head of Environment Protection External Programmes, said: “It is costing industry to landfill PSA and we want to see this material utilised.

“By clarifying at which point PSA ceases to be a waste and the waste regulations no longer apply, the Protocol will make it easier to market and encourage greater use. It will reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill as well as ease the regulatory burden and costs for businesses.

“This consultation is an important part of the development of the Quality Protocol and we need to hear from a wide range of stakeholders to ensure the final guidance is practical and delivers benefits for both the environment and business.”

To participate in the consultation, which runs until 12 March, 2009 visit http://qp.dialoguebydesign.net

For more information on aggregates go to www.aggregain.co.uk and for further details about the Waste Protocols Project visit www.environment-agency.gov.uk or www.wrap.org.uk

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