EPA publishes national criteria that allow for the safe reuse of site-won asphalt (road planings) as a by-product

Date released: November 30, 2023

  • The generation of construction and demolition waste needs to vastly reduce: the sector is responsible for over 50 per cent of all of Ireland’s waste.
  • The EPA new national by-product criteria supports the prevention construction waste and instead allows its reuse, as a lower-carbon alternative to virgin materials.
  • National by-product criteria will provide the construction sector with an efficient regulatory process to reuse road planings in the production of consistent and quality road surface products.

30 November 2023: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has today published National By-Product Criteria for Site-Won Asphalt (road planings) from road developments. 

These criteria allow for the classification of road planings as a by-product, meaning it is not waste. The by-product can subsequently be used or placed on the market in the same way as virgin material. These criteria support waste prevention and facilitate the reuse of materials in new construction projects, in line with the circular economy.  

There is a strong demand for secondary construction products in Ireland to support development of new infrastructure with a low carbon footprint. The criteria allow used asphalt to be remanufactured into new bituminous products for road building.

Commenting on the criteria, David Flynn, Director of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Sustainability, said:

“The publication of national by-product criteria for site-won asphalt is an important step for the ‘greening’ of Ireland’s construction industry.
The criteria will support waste prevention and circular economy ambitions, by tackling the generation of construction waste, the largest waste stream in the country, while encouraging the reuse of materials. 
This is the type of progress needed if Ireland is to move in a meaningful way from the linear to the circular economy.” 

The criteria provide a simple way to assess materials for re-use, and will support green procurement ambitions for road development projects. 

Warren Phelan, Programme Manager of the EPA’s Circular Economy Programme noted: 

“The publication of the national criteria show the EPA’s commitment to streamlining the regulation to support secondary products. The shift away from the assessment of case-by-case applications to national criteria, which is available to all producers, offers more regulatory certainty to the stakeholders involved. These criteria will introduce a level playing field for industry and introduce a single set of rules that are easy to implement.”

The EPA calls on relevant stakeholders in the construction sector to adopt and implement the new criteria.
Further information on the national by-product criteria and other initiatives of the circular economy programme are available on the EPA website

Further information: Emily Williamson, EPA Media Relations Office: 053-91 70770 (24 hours) and media@epa.ie

Notes to Editor

Asphalt is a mixture of bitumen and aggregate (sand/ gravel/ stone). 

Site-won asphalt is milled asphalt road layers or slabs which have been stripped from road surfaces. 

A Reclaimed Asphalt Pavement (RAP) plant is a fixed facility or mobile plant where site-won asphalt can be processed into reclaimed asphalt which is in turn is used to produce bituminous mixtures that can be used to resurface roads, driveways etc. 

The EPA is the competent authority with regard to making decisions on by-product status. A by-product is a substance or object, resulting from a production process, the primary aim of which is not the production of that item. By-product sits within the top tier “prevention” of the waste hierarchy. By-products are never considered waste. In the context of the national criteria, road maintenance is considered a production process which produces an upgraded/maintained road. The site-won asphalt stripped from the surface of a road is a by-product of that process, if the national criteria are fulfilled. 

The published national criteria serve to meet the following targets set out in the 2021, Waste Action Plan for a Circular Economy:

  • Streamline the by-product notification and decision-making process. This will encourage greater use of the process by industry and assist in meeting Ireland’s waste reduction targets, through the prevention of waste generation. This will also reduce pressure on waste disposal and recovery infrastructure;
  • Obtain by-product status for a number of priority waste streams, particularly in the C&D sector.
    Further works are ongoing by the EPA to develop national by-product criteria in regard to C&D sector for greenfield soil & stone.

Further information in relation to by-products is available on the EPA website.

The EPA also recently published National End-of-Waste Criteria which apply to aggregates recycled from construction and demolition waste, including soil and stone, concrete, bricks and ceramics. 

Further information in relation to end-of-waste is also available on the EPA website.

Circular economy: A circular economy is one where materials, including packaging, are recirculated and used again and again, and waste is minimised. To facilitate the move to a more circular economy, the European Commission put forward a Circular Economy Package in December 2015, which includes revised legislative proposals on waste, as well as a comprehensive Action Plan. The Irish Government published a new national waste policy, A Waste Action Plan for a Circular Economy, in September 2021.