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Turning Ash into Assets

Consultation on increasing the recycling of coal power station ash. A consultation has been launched today (Monday 8 September) by the Waste Protocols Project, a joint Environment Agency and WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) initiative, to get views on a Quality Protocol for the re-use of ashes from power generation. The protocol aims to increase their use in the construction industry and divert millions of tonnes of waste from landfill.

Funded by Defra, the draft Quality Protocol for the production of Pulverised Fuel Ash and Furnace Bottom Ash for use in Construction and Manufacturing, aims to reduce the environmental impact and boost the commercial marketability of these materials. By removing the waste label and providing a quality guarantee it will make it easier to market Pulverised Fuel Ash (PFA) and Furnace Bottom Ash (FBA) as substitutes for virgin materials.

Over the next three months, the Environment Agency and WRAP want all interested stakeholders to take part in the consultation. These opinions will be taken into account when the final version of the Quality Protocol is published.

PFA and FBA are ashes produced from the burning of coal to generate electricity in power station boilers. Each year, some seven million tonnes of PFA and FBA are produced in the UK. While some is used in well-established markets, such as for the manufacture of concrete and construction products including cement, general fill and grouting materials, around three million tonnes still ends-up in landfill.

Instead of going to landfill, there is potential to extend its use in existing markets as well as developing new markets, for example as a binder in road construction.

The Quality Protocol will identify best practice for use of the ashes and encourage re-use by giving potential users confidence that PFA and FBA meet a defined quality standard.

Marcus Gover, WRAP's Director of Market Development, said: “By establishing a consistent quality guarantee for PFA and FBA, this Quality Protocol will build confidence among end users. It will help recovered materials reach well-established markets, such as construction materials and grouting, while stimulating growth in less-developed markets. The Quality Protocol could also raise standards as it highlights good practice in the use of PFA and FBA.”

Martin Brocklehurst, the Head of Environment Protection, External Programmes at the Environment Agency, said: “We have worked closely with industry to develop this Quality Protocol to ensure it meets their needs, while continuing to protect the environment. We are now keen to hear the views of wider stakeholders.”

The consultation is open to any interested stakeholders, including power generating companies and manufacturers who currently are or could be interested in using PFA and FBA. It will be available at http://qp.dialoguebydesign.net for 12 weeks.

For further information on the Waste Protocols Project, go to www.environment-agency.gov.uk or www.wrap.org.uk.

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