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Excavated earth to become waste

March 13th, 1995

Myth: Under the UK’s Waste Management Regulations 1991, implementing EU Directive 91/156, excavated earth becomes ‘controlled waste’, and therefore has to be taken away in lorries by a licensed contractor and buried in a designated landfill site, rather than being used usefully for other purposes, such as filling dips in fields.
 Source: Daily Mail (13 March 1995)

Response: This is not necessarily the case. Excavated earth only becomes ‘controlled waste’ under the terms of EU Directive 91/156 when the holder discards, or intends to discard, or is required to discard, such material. Therefore waste is defined with reference to the holder and the action or requirement to discard the substance or object. The definition of v/aste was deliberately left open-ended so that national governments could tailor its effect according to their respective needs.

The relevant EU Directive (91/156) deals with the disposal of waste and aims to protect the environment and the health of EU citizens against the harmful effect that can be caused by the collection, transport, treatment, storage and tipping of waste.

It is recognised that central to improving the efficiency of the management of this waste is the need to be able to come to a common definition of waste, marking out those products siutable for recycling and re-using, and others which need to be disposed of in a manner appropriate to ensuring a high level of protection of the environment and the public.
In this case the Waste Disposal Directive does not define excavated material as “waste”.  These kinds of materials are the responsibility of the UK Government.

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Please note that all statements in all entries were correct on the date of publication given. However, older archived posts are not systematically updated in the light of later developments, for example changes to EU law.

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