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Waste Quality Protocols

Last updated: 12 May 2015

A quality protocol sets out how to fully recover waste and turn it into a quality product. It defines the point at which waste ceases to be waste and can be used as a product without the requirement for waste management controls.  By following quality protocols, producers can create sustainable resources in which end users can have confidence.

The project is a partnership between the Environment Agency, WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme), NIEA and Welsh Government.

The benefits of Quality Protocols are significant.  We estimate that by 2020 the first 12 Quality Protocols will create around £1 billion in business savings and increased sales of waste-derived products; divert 17 million tones of waste from landfill;  and avert 2.1 million tonnes in carbon dioxide equivalent emissions (CO2).*

Compliance with Quality Protocols is voluntary. If producers do not comply with the quality protocol in full, the waste will still be regarded as waste and the onward transfer and use of the waste will be subject to the requirements of the Waste Management Licensing Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2003 and Amendments.

We launched the first in a series of protocols covering particular streams in July 2010.  Published protocols are listed below.  Other materials being considered are tyres, incinerator bottom ash and waste wood.

A QP checker tool has been launched which provides an easy, quick and cost effective way for both new and existing producers to check that they meet the QP quality requirements and any other underpinning specifications. The tool creates a user report that documents performance and pinpoints any areas where improvement is needed. It can also be used as an internal audit check and will support a more robust and consistent compliance regime. The tool covers compost and aggregates only at present and can be found online (see link below):-

Quality protocol for Compost (August 2012)

A revised Quality Protocol for Compost was published on 1st August 2012, replacing the July 2010 version.

Front cover of compost protocol document

Quality protocol for Anearobic Digestate (February 2014)

A revised Quality Protocol for Anearobic Digestate was published on 10th February 2014, replacing the July 2010 version.

Anaerobic Digestion protocol front cover

Quality Protocol for Poultry Litter Ash (PLA) (August 2012).

Poultry Litter Ash Protocol Front cover

Quality Protocol for Gypsum from Waste Plasterboard (March 2014)


Quality Protocol for Biodiesel (March 2011)

Biodiesel Front cover of protocol document

Quality Protocol for Pulverised Fuel Ash / Furnace Bottom Ash (PFA/FBA) Protocol (October 2010)

PFA Protocol front cover

Quality Protocol for Processed Fuel Oil (PFO) Protocol (July 2010; Updated February 2011)

PFO protocol front page

Quality Protocol for the production of Aggregates from Inert Waste (October 2013

Aggregates QP front cover

Quality Protocol for Tyre-Derived Rubber Materials (TDRM) (February 2014)

This document is accessible online (see link below):-

For further information on our position on Quality Protocols please call  028 9056 9443 or email:-

Further information on the quality protocols programme can be found online (see links below):-

* The above figures are based on Financial Impact Assessments (FIA’s) conducted on the first 12 Quality Protocols over a 10 year period UK wide. The FIA’s are conducted in accordance with the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) and HM Treasury guidelines and are conservative.