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Waste control in general


Regulation of the disposal of waste is part of the “integrated” system of pollution prevention and control based on EU legislation including the EU Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC) and Directive on Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (2008/1/EC). Separate detailed regulations are in place for England and Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

In addition, specific legislation applies to:

Builders' skips

Carrier Bags

Electrical and electronic equipment

Plastic - single use items

Waste control

Disposal of waste on land is regulated under Part II of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (as amended) but there is also other relevant inter-connected legislation including the Control of Pollution (Amendment) Act 1989 and subordinate legislation [which makes finding and comprehension of the law difficult).

The Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010 and previously the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2007 replaced the system of waste management licensing in Part II of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (c. 43) and the Waste Management Licensing Regulations 1994 (S.I. 1994/1056, as amended), and the system of permitting in the Pollution Prevention and Control (England and Wales) Regulations 2000 (S.I. 2000/1973, as amended), with a new system of environmental permitting in England and Wales

.In addition, “hazardous waste” is regulated under the Hazardous Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2005.

The core prohibition is that a person must not:

* deposit (or knowingly cause or knowingly permit to be deposited) “controlled waste” on any land unless an environmental permit authorising the deposit is in force and the deposit is in accordance with the permit;

* keep or manage controlled waste in a manner likely to cause pollution of the environment or harm to human health.The prohibition does not apply to “household waste” from a domestic property which is treated, kept or disposed of within the curtilage of the property.

There are other exceptions and exemptions.

Duty of care etc as respects waste

It is the duty of any person who imports, produces, carries, keeps, treats or disposes of controlled waste or, as a broker, has control of such waste, to take all such measures applicable to him in that capacity as are reasonable in the circumstances:

* to prevent any contravention by any other person of the provisions prohibiting unauthorised or harmful deposit, treatment or disposal of waste;

* to prevent any contravention by any other person of certain provisions on environmental permits or of a condition of an environmental permit;

* to prevent the escape of the waste from his control or that of any other person;

* on the transfer of the waste, to secure: (a) that the transfer is only to an authorised person or to a person for authorised transport purposes; and (b) that there is transferred such a written description of the waste as will enable other persons to avoid a contravention of the provisions prohibiting unauthorised or harmful deposit, treatment or disposal of waste, or any contravention of a permit granted under the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 20079, or a contravention of a condition of an environmental permit and to comply with the duty under this provision as respects the escape of waste.

Due diligence measures

Official guidance on the disposal of business waste states that:your responsibilities are to:

* keep waste to a minimum by doing everything you reasonably can to prevent, reuse, recycle or recover waste (in that order) - get help to do this;

* sort and store waste safely and securely;

* complete a waste transfer note for each load of waste that leaves your premises
•check if your waste carrier is registered to dispose of waste;

* not allow the waste carrier to dispose of your waste illegally (and report them to Crimestoppers if they do)

You have extra responsibilities if you’re dealing with hazardous waste.

Export of waste

The export of waste is regulated by the Transfrontier Shipment of Waste Regulations 2007 and the European Waste Shipment Regulation 2006.

What is “waste”?

The definition of “waste” is taken from the EU Waste Framework Directive 2008/98/EC which broadly defines it as “any substance or object which the holder discards or intends or is required to discard” (Controlled Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2012). The regulations divide waste to certain categories including "household waste", "commercial waste" and, "industrial waste". There are also categories of “extractive waste" and "hazardous waste".

Waste carrier, broker and dealer registration

Carriers, brokers and dealers of controlled waste must register with the Environment Agency (Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2011).

“Waste carriers” transport controlled waste in the course of their business (this includes waste produced by them as well as the waste of other businesses – but see the exemption below).

“Waste brokers” arrange for other businesses' controlled waste to be handled, transported, disposed of or recovered.

“Waste dealers” buy waste from other businesses to sell it on.

Who must register?

“Upper tier registration”: a waste carrier, waste broker or waste dealer must register with the Environment Agency in the upper tier. There are some exceptions including:

* Carriers who only carry waste produced by themselves, unless the waste is construction or demolition waste. After 2013, carriers who “normally and regularly” carry waste produced by themselves will have to register in the lower tier.
Some categories of waste carrier, broker or dealer are required to register in the lower tier.

"Lower tier registration": a waste carrier, broker or dealer must register as a lower tier if he deals only in:

* animal by-products
* waste from mines or quarries
* waste from agricultural premises
Lower tier registration also applies to a waste carrier, broker or dealer who is:
* a waste collection, regulation or disposal authority
* a charity or voluntary organisation

Carriers who “normally and regularly” carry controlled waste only produced by themselves will need to register in the lower tier after 2013 when the current exemption expires. Carriers who only occasionally carry their own waste (e.g. because a normal disposal service is not available) will not need to register

Tacit consent: applications to register are not subject to tacit consent. There is a right of appeal to the Secretary of State or (alter the Welsh government

Criminal enforcement

A person who contravenes waste controls commits an offence. It is a defence for a person charged with an offence under these provisions to prove, in certain circumstances, that he exercised due diligence to avoid the commission of the offence, or that the acts were done in an emergency in order to avoid danger to human health.

Hazardous waste

Special provisions apply to “hazardous waste”, i.e. any waste which is a hazardous waste for the purposes of the Hazardous Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2005. There are additional reporting, storing and transporting requirements for such waste. Hazardous waste includes chemicals, oil and fuels, batteries, adhesives, paints, cleaning agents, pest control products, electrical equipment with hazardous or radioactive components, biological agents, such as bacteria and other micro-organisms, waste by-products from using energy, such as gas or fumes from soldering, hot oil or metal-plating.


Special requirements for the handling of asbestos and asbestos waste are contained in the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.

Further information

For information  on how to register and other information, visit GOV.UK and search under “Waste and environmental impact” at

What's new items:

06/04/2018 Hampshire man fined £3,000 for allowing the dumping of waste at Firgrove Lane

A man from Wickham in Hampshire has been fined for breaching regulations regarding the disposal of controlled waste. Photographs published by the Environment Agency shows piles of wood and building waste in a field, with a caravan in the background.

Joe Keet was fined £3,000 with a £170 victim surcharge and £1,904.75 costs after being found guilty by magistrates of knowingly allowing the deposit of controlled waste without the correct permit, contrary to s.33(1)(a) and (6) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (as amended). This included construction and demolition waste, household clearance and commercial waste, waste wood, furniture, grab bags, black sacks of domestic waste, underlay and insulation.

Jasper Smith and Phillip Jenkins, who brought some of the waste to the site, also pleaded guilty at Portsmouth Magistrates Court on 18 December 2017, where Mr Smith was fined £333 and Mr Jenkins £121, and they shared the £300 costs.

28/02/2018 Holiday firm ordered to pay £8,500 after burning waste

Source: GOV.UK

A Lincolnshire holiday park company has been ordered to pay over £8,500 after illegally burning waste on one of their sites. Seaside Leisure Parks Ltd was convicted for burning a waste pile consisting of mattresses, sofas, and plastic chairs among other things on 4 July 2017. Following the Environment Agency investigation, Seaside Leisure Parks was convicted and ordered to pay a £5,000 fine as well as £3,496.50 in costs and a victim surcharge of £170.

The Environment Agency found that the company started a waste fire in 2017, which had to be put out by the fire service. Following this incident, the company did not take the appropriate action to remove the waste for another month, instead leaving the waste and fire residues on site. It had been previously warned for the same type of offending in 2010.

16/03/2018 Waste Enforcement (England and Wales) Regulations 2018

The Waste Enforcement (England and Wales) Regulations 2018 [SI 2018/369] will among other things, gives waste regulation authorities and waste collection authorities in England and Wales the power by notice to require waste from a site to be removed where it has been unlawfully kept or disposed of, including waste that was initially lawfully deposited. The Regulations will come into force partly on 29 March 2018 and fully on 8 May 2018.

02/02/2017: Packaging company fined £50,000 over waste failings

A mushroom packaging and distribution company has been fined £50,000 for polluting a brook in Evesham. Following a report that Battleton Brook in Evesham had turned black with a foul odour, in April 2015 an Environment Agency (EA) officer found that the brook had been heavily polluted with organic matter, causing low levels of oxygen. Some frogs and a significant number of invertebrates downstream of Vale Park had been killed as a result of the pollution incident.

Northern Ireland

For further information on environmental regulation in NI, visit

What’s new item on this topic [see What’s new page or archive for full item]:

26/12/2012: Subject: Environment and waste control (NI)
The Pollution Prevention and Control (Industrial Emissions) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012 (SR 2012/453) come into effect on 6 January 2013 and are made under The Environment (Northern Ireland) Order 2002 (2002 No. 3153 (N.I. 7)).
These transpose Directive 2010/75/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council on industrial emissions (integrated pollution prevention and control (Recast)). They also replace existing legislation which is listed in Schedule 17.


The Pollution Prevention and Control (Scotland) Regulations 2012 ( 2012 No. 360) was made under the powers conferred by the Pollution Prevention and Control Act 1999 and section 2(2) of the European Communities Act. and came into force on 7 January 2013.The EU Industrial Emissions Directive (Directive 2010/75/EU) on industrial emissionsis a Recast of seven existing Directives: those concerning:

* integrated pollution prevention and control (“IPPC”) (2008/1/EC);
* large combustion plants (2001/80/EC);
* waste incineration (2000/76/EC), solvent emissions (1999/13/EC); and
* three concerning waste from the titanium dioxide industry

Material from those Directives is to be found in Chapters II to VI respectively of the industrial emissions Directive. These “component Directives” are currently transposed in Scotland through the Pollution Prevention and Control (Scotland) Regulations 2000 (SSI 2000/323) 3 – usually referred to as “the PPC Regulations”. In this note, the Industrial Emissions Directive is generally referred to simply as “the Directive”. As much of the material in the recast Directive remains substantively unchanged from the component Directives, the PPC Regulations provide the most appropriate vehicle through which to transpose the Industrial Emissions Directive. However the PPC Regulations have already been amended by no fewer than 25 other pieces of legislation, up to and including the Waste (Scotland) Regulations 2012. These have ranged from significant amendments dealing with large combustion plants, waste incineration, solvent emissions, and petrol vapour recovery, to more minor amendments updating cross-references and the like. The result is a very complex patchwork of legislation, making it difficult for all users to determine what the current requirements are.

As transposition of the Directive inevitably requires a large number of further amendments to the PPC Regulations, compounding the difficulties of use, the Government has therefore taken the opportunity to consolidate the PPC Regulations, incorporating the changes required to transpose the Directive.

The Scottish Government and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) have also consulted on proposals for an integrated framework of environmental regulation 4, which is expected to involve the integration and alignment of the main regulatory regimes operated by SEPA: PPC, the Radioactive Substances Act 1993, the Water Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland) Regulations 2011 and waste management licensing. This is similar to
changes which have already taken place in England and Wales in establishing the Environmental Permitting Regulations. It is therefore likely that the draft Regulations will be short-lived, being overtaken in time by this integrated framework.

For further information, visit the SEPA pages.

[Page updated: 05/03/2020]


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Builders' skips

Carrier Bags

Electrical and electronic equipment

Plastic - single use items