Environmental Law and What is Waste?

A new court decision has limited the scope for resource reuse and recovery, especially for material such as demolition waste.

A company that carried out demolition and excavation work and then transported the by-products of those activities to build roads was charged with unlawful transportation of waste. The company argued that the material was not actually waste, as it was wanted for re-use in the construction of roads.

Initially, the court agreed, but its decision was later overturned on appeal where it was found that the only appropriate test for whether material is waste or not is whether the owner (or generator) of the material at the time of transportation has a continuing use for the material.
Given the decision, those involved in reuse and resource recovery will need to be very careful. Unless a clear intention to re-use/recover the material is established by the owner of the material prior to transportation, that material is treated as waste in the eyes of the law – even if intended for ultimate reuse or recovery by other parties.

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