London South West, UK - A reader asks if the new waste hierarchy set out in the Waste Regulations 2011 can be ignored in the clean up following the burning of old brick buildings in the recent UK riots, specifically whether reclaimable London yellow stock bricks can be crushed or landfilled or whether they must be reclaimed for reuse.
The Waste Regulations 2011 require all authorities to create waste prevention plans and waste management plans and to require public participation in the creation of such plans unless they have been designed solely for serving national defence or in case of civil emergencies. It would seem unlikely that urgent demolition subsequent to arson constitutes a civil emergency but even if it did, that should not preclude the salvage of bricks for reuse, especially if the demolished material can be loaded into trucks and taken to a facility where whole bricks could be salvaged - and this would seem to be a legal requirement if it can be shown that there is demand for the reclaimed bricks.
If there is no demand for the reclaimed bricks, then 'preparing for reuse' need not be applied. However, the agency concerned in making or sanctioning such a decision would need to prove that there was no demand before the bricks could be crushed (recycled) or landfilled, and this could only be done with confirmation from professionals within the brick reclamation sector.
It could be that the bricks were damaged during the fire. London yellow stocks can turn pink in a fire and will eventually vitrify and turn a glassy black. Fire damaged bricks may be tested for soundness by clinking two of them together. If they ring they are usually sound. Vitrified reclaimed bricks may still have a market for reuse as flared headers in diaperwork.
Reclaimed bricks may require testing for frost resistance and salt content for reuse in structural walls externally, but any sound brick would be deemed suitable for reuse internally, and such reuse is encouraged in the Code for Sustainable Homes.
Schedule 1 of the Waste Regulations 2011 requires the disposal of waste or reusable material to be the subject of a waste prevention programme and waste management plan.
Regulations 5, 8 and 11
Waste prevention programmes and waste management plans
1. To protect the environment and human health by preventing or reducing the adverse impacts of the generation and management of waste and by reducing overall impacts of resource use and improving the efficiency of such use.
Application of the waste hierarchy
(1) To apply the following waste hierarchy as a priority order in waste prevention and
management policy- -
(b) preparing for re-use;
(d) other recovery (for example energy recovery);
(2) When applying the waste hierarchy in sub-paragraph (1), the appropriate authority must ensure that it- -
(a) encourages the options that deliver the best overall environmental outcome, which may require specific waste streams to depart from the hierarchy where this is justified by life- cycle thinking on the overall impacts of the generation and management of such waste;
(b) takes into account- -
(i) the general environmental protection principles of precaution and sustainability,
(ii) technical feasibility and economic viability,
(iii) protection of resources, and
(iv) the overall environmental, human health, economic and social impacts.
Protection of human health and the environment
3. To ensure that waste management is carried out without endangering human health, without harming the environment and, in particular- -
(a) without risk to water, air, soil, plants or animals;
(b) without causing a nuisance through noise or odours; and
(c) without adversely affecting the countryside or places of special interest.
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Story Type: Opinion