Most co-products will not be branded "waste"

by 5m Editor
20 May 2004, at 12:00am

UK - The Environment Agency has recently held discussions with Defra over whether certain by-products from the production of food and drink are 'waste', in accordance with the definition of waste in Article 1(a) of the Waste Framework Directive, as interpreted by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in recent cases.

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In the light of these discussions and consideration of ECJ case law, the Agency has concluded that materials resulting from the manufacture of food or drink which are passed on directly to another undertaking for processing into food or drink (for human or animal consumption) are not waste.

The rationale behind this view is that raw materials are being processed in a series of stages (albeit by different undertakings) to extract nutritional value for a number of different purposes, all of which are aimed at manufacturing food or drink from the materials.

In these circumstances, the Agency considers that it is appropriate to regard these food and drink by-products as not being discarded as waste but simply as another food or drink product obtained from the original raw materials. In the Agency's view, this conclusion is compatible with the aims of the Waste Framework Directive and the need to ensure its effectiveness is not undermined.

This reasoning applies, for example, to brewers grains and spent yeast, where they are used to make animal feed or yeast based products, and to molasses and other derivatives from sugar manufacturing where they are used to make animal feed.

However, where residues from the manufacture of food or drink are disposed of, or are used for a different purpose, which amounts to a waste recovery operation (e.g. use of olive residues as fuel), they will be waste.

This reasoning does not affect the question of whether off-specification or out of date food or drink products are waste. In principle, it is likely that they would be waste within the meaning of Article 1(a) of the Waste Framework Directive - they are identified as a category of waste in Annex 1 to the Directive and any producer will seek to limit their production.

There are though some distinctions to be made here - for instance whether a particular product is off-specification or not. The Agency is giving further consideration to this issue in consultation with Defra. In the meantime, decisions should continue to be taken, by those with responsibility for such products or their use, having regard to all the circumstances, the aims of the Waste Framework Directive and the need to ensure its effectiveness is not undermined.

Source: National Pig Association - 19th May 2004

5m Editor