One of the most attractive reasons for using coal ash-based products is sustainability. As a secondary resource, coal ash is often more environmentally sustainable than raw alternatives – such as sand and stone – and, as a by-product of coal-fired power, is widely available across the UK.

Produced during the combustion process used at coal-fired power stations, coal ash is a very fine and consistent material that can be incorporated into a range of building products often with little need for further refinement. If needed, beneficiation processes may be used to further improve (or refine) the performance or consistency of fly ash, for example by reducing the amount of carbon is fly ash.

Its use avoids the need to use raw materials and helps divert a material from landfill or long-term storage.

The use of coal ash is also safe and practical, and the UKQAA has worked with the wider industry, the Government and supporting bodies to establish a regulatory framework which ensures end users can make the most out of coal ash in a safe and effective way.

To read more about what we do to promote the sustainability and safety of coal ash please see the following:

Responsibly Sourced Materials Scheme

The UKQAA run Responsibly Sourced Materials Scheme to commend those producers of coal ash who strive to meet high standards in sustainability

Quality Protocol

The Quality Protocol defines when ash ceases to be a waste and become a product.


Coal ash products are required to seek registration under REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals).

Responsibly Sourced Materials Scheme

The UKQAA has an important role to play in helping to encourage and support the use of coal ash products within the construction industry. Part of our role involves monitoring the responsible and safe production and manufacturing of coal ash and upholding the various industry standards for quality building materials.

In 2008 we launched the Responsibly Sourced Materials Scheme which mirrored an initiative within the concrete industry to help improve sustainability in construction – the Concrete Industry Sustainable Construction Strategy.

The UKQAA’s Responsibly Sourced Materials scheme specifically relates to the coal ash industry and is designed to assess the sustainability of producing and supplying coal ash products to the construction industry. Based on a series of key performance indicators set by DEFRA and the UK Sustainable Concrete Platform Working Group, it is a self assessment scheme which demonstrates how individual power stations are working to safely and efficiently recover coal ash for use in construction products.

The performance indicators are broken down into five distinct categories which aim to assess the management systems in place, evaluate the efficiency measures untaken and review the station’s overall performance as a supplier of sustainable construction materials.

Category 1

Sustainable Consumption and Production This includes an assessment of environmental management systems, waste streams, emissions, stakeholder engagement and compliance with quality standards.

Category 2

Climate Change and Energy This includes an assessment of production and transportation efficiency, including emissions and the overall environmental impact of transportation to site for each order placed.

Category 3

Natural Resources and Enhancing the Environment This includes an assessment of work to minimise the disposal of ash products to landfill by maximising opportunities to market the use of coal ash and utilising the different types of ash, including FBA. This category also reviews the steps that are taken to address complaints related to the production and supply of ash products.

Category 4

Creating Sustainable Communities This includes an assessment of the measures taken to minimise accidents, operate effective health and safety management systems, engage with the workforce and liaise with the local community.

Category 5

Overall Business Responsibility The Key Performance Indicators from Categories 1 to 4 are analysed to produce an overall percentage sustainability rating. These ratings are awarded to each power station on a yearly basis.

To read more about our Responsibly Sourced Materials Scheme and the specific KPIs, please see the following Sustainability Reports:

UKQAA Sustainability Report for 2007
UKQAA Sustainability Report for 2008
UKQAA Sustainability Report for 2009
UKQAA Sustainability Report for 2010
Detailed description of the operation of the scheme (Jan 2011 V10.1)
Detailed description of the operation of the scheme (July 2011 V10.2)
Detailed description of the operation of the scheme (Jan 2012 V10.3)
• Key Performance Indicators