The D.C. Court of Appeals yesterday cleaned up the city's garbage laws pertaining to meat fat and bones.

In a five-page opinion, the court examined past and present garbage regulations and then reversed a conviction against the Darling-Delaware Corp. for "transporting solid waste (fat and bones) without a license." The corporation had been fined $75 for the offense by a D.C. Superior Court judge.

Darling-Delaware regularly purchases frozen meat fat and bones from Washington area supermarkets and grocery stores, the court said. The items are collected in plastic containers, taken by truck to a depot in Temple Hills and then shipped to New York, where it is processed into tallow, the basic component of cosmetics, soaps and other products, the court said. The material is also used for soup bones and as ingredients in producing margarine and lard, the court noted.

The city argued that Darling-Delaware violated health regulations that set standards for storage, transportation and collection of solid waste, also known as garbage. Darling-Delaware contended that the lower court judge erred when he concluded that the fat and bones constituted solid waste, and the appeals court agreed.

Waste is defined in regulations as "useless unwanted or discarded materials," the appeals court noted, which was not the case with the meat fat and bones.

The trial court had concluded that while the fat and bones were not worthless, they were "discarded materials." The three-judge appeals panel determined, however, that the grocery stores had never discarded the fat and bones, but instead had frozen and stored them for collection by Darling-Delaware.