Oil shale ash status change reduces hazardous waste by nine million tons

Shale Oil ash pellets.
Shale Oil ash pellets. Source: ERR

Approximately nine million tons less of hazardous waste will be produced in Estonia next year after the minister of the environment approved a decree redefining the category of oil shale ash.

From the new year, there will be approximately nine million tons less hazardous waste in Estonia than this year, and more opportunities will be opened for the recycling of oil shale ash, the Ministry of the Environment said.

The Ministry of the Environment commissioned a joint study from Tallinn University of Technology and the University of Tartu to determine whether oil shale ash continues to be a hazardous waste. The results of the study showed that oil shale ash could be exempted from being labeled as hazardous waste.

Minister of the Environment Rene Kokk approved the change.  

"Oil shale ash is no more hazardous than coal ash and therefore it should not be hazardous waste, nor is coal ash," said Undersecretary of the Ministry of the Environment Kaupo Heinma. 

He said this change in status means oil shale ash can now be exported. In the past, exports were almost non-existent due to bureaucracy and the category of hazardous waste.

Heinma added that more and more entrepreneurs are thinking about using oil shale ash. The ash can be used in road construction or in the production of building materials, fertilizers and cement. It can also be used in the plastics industry.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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