Classification as waste

2.72 Forestry materials, municipal arisings and straw are all secondary products; consequently some of these materials might fall under the legal definition of waste. The classification of a material as a waste depends on whether it has been discarded or is intended or required to be discarded regardless of whether there is a market for it as a product58.

2.73 In broad terms, the ramifications of materials being designated as wastes impact largely on their transportation. Waste transfer notes must accompany waste materials during transit. As the disposal of these materials is current practice, existing transport arrangements should already be in compliance with waste regulations where necessary.

2.74 The classification of these materials as waste need not affect their use as a fuel. Plants that are fuelled by virgin, untreated wood are excluded from the Waste Incineration Directive59. This means that biomass plants burning municipal arisings or forestry wastes either alone or with energy crops or co-fired with coal should not need to be classified as waste incinerators. However, we recommend that all potential biomass schemes confirm the legal status of their operations on a case-by-case basis.

2.75 Separate from the legal question is the issue of public antipathy to the processing of waste in their neighbourhood. It has been reported60 that certain biomass stations have met with opposition when local residents have become concerned that the plant may be used as a waste processing plant in the future, even when this was not in the project plan. It may be easier to promote wood gasification technologies that require a homogenous fuel that is clearly distinguishable from waste; but with the development of advanced technologies such as pyrolysis that can accommodate very heterogeneous fuel sources, this is likely to become an increasingly prominent issue. It is important for acceptability that biomass plants are kept distinct and separate from waste disposal operations; this will only be achieved if operators are scrupulous and transparent about the source of their fuel.

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