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Waste soil: Improper classification can be a costly mistake

Waste soil disposal from a development can be costly, but a lack of classification at the pre-development stage can significantly increase this cost through time delays and claims from contractors.

Correct classification of ‘waste soil’ is required to determine whether the material to be excavated and removed off-site is hazardous or non-hazardous. The classification is undertaken in accordance with the Environment Agency guidance Technical Guidance WM3: Waste Classification – Guidance on the classification and assessment of waste (updated in July 2015).

But classifying soils for disposal is not a straight forward exercise.

The most common misconception is that a Waste Acceptance Criteria (WAC) test is sufficient; this is not the case and can result in a misclassification.

Another common misconception is that the waste becomes a “problem” for the contractor. However, it is the waste producer who retains the duty of care to ensure waste is disposed of. This process starts with classification.

Waste classification requires a thorough desk study and ground investigation. This should be tailored to the specific site and anticipated soil disposal requirements.
Once the soil has been correctly classified, and properly documented, only then should WAC soil test be considered (and not all waste soil requires a WAC test). WAC is only a method of determining the appropriate landfill site (i.e. inert, non-hazardous or hazardous) or whether pre-treatment is required prior to disposal.

agb Environmental Ltd has an experienced team that can manage the whole process from classifying waste soils through to disposal of the material, avoiding potentially costly errors and delays.

For more information on waste soil classification and disposal, or if you would like to discuss a project in more detail, contact Simon Pike at agb Environmental on 01638 663226 or email