What is a Materials Management Plan?

A Materials Management Plan (MMP) can allow the re-use of contaminated or uncontaminated soil, Made Ground and other material in earthworks without the requirement to go through the lengthy and costly process of obtaining an environmental permit.

In the case of brownfield projects, the off-site disposal of surplus materials such as excavation arisings can be a significant cost item and may impact project viability. Arisings generated by site levelling, foundation and basement excavations, road construction and utility service trenches can result in thousands of tonnes of surplus material being generated. 

This material is considered as waste by the definition set out in the Waste Framework Directive (WFD) meaning it must be handled in line with waste duty of care requirements and cannot legally be used again unless an environmental permit is issued, which can take several months and incur significant application costs.

The CL:AIRE Definition of Waste Code of Practice sets out four main principles for the use of materials as non-waste. The Materials Management Plan must contain sufficient information to demonstrate these requirements are met.

1. Protection of Human Health and the Environment

Adequate assessment must be undertaken, and where necessary, protection or remediation measures must be specified. Any material that presents unacceptable risk of pollution of the environment or harm to human health it is likely to be classed as a waste, although it may be possible to update the design or treat the material (see point 2).

2. Suitable for use

The material must be suitable for the intended use, particularly in terms of its chemical and geotechnical properties. Excavated materials that are suitable for use without requiring treatment are unlikely to be classed as a waste. Material requiring treatment, such as to alter chemical or physical/geotechnical properties will be classed as a waste, but once treated and suitable for use, will no longer be considered waste under an approved MMP.

3. Certainty of Use

It must be demonstrated that the materials  will actually be used and that the use is not just a probability, but a certainty.  The DoWCoP requires this is established at the outset, meaning any material excavated and stockpiled with no pre-defined destination and use will become a waste.

4. Quantity of Material Required

Materials should only be used in the quantities necessary for that use, and no more.  The use of an excessive amount of material will indicate that it is being disposed of and is waste.

Is a Materials Management Plan (MMP) a legal requirement?

Yes, a Materials Management Plan is a legal requirement as the Waste Framework Directive classifies surplus soil arisings as a waste, the re-use of surplus soils without an Environmental Permit, Waste Exemption or MMP would be classed as an unauthorised deposit of waste (landfilling) which has legal ramifications and can result in HM Treasury applying landfill tax to the deposited material at the maximum rate.

When is a Materials Management Plan required?

A Materials Management Plan is required if you intend to re-use brownfield soils arising on your site, or if you intend to bring in clean greenfield soils from another site. If your site comprises only clean greenfield soils, you may not need an MMP – speak to us to discuss your requirements!

When you want to progress with an MMP, they need to be thought of early on in the development scheme and needs to be in place and fully authorised by CL:AIRE BEFORE the excavation and stockpiling of material commences.

An MMP cannot be applied for retrospectively and so any arisings generated prior to an MMP being accepted by CL:AIRE, that are not covered by an existing Waste Exemption or Environmental Permit, will be classed as a waste and must be handled in line with waste duty of care requirements.

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Olivia Maxwell

Principal Geo-Environmental Consultant