Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Carrying out waste management activities yourself

Carrying out waste management activities yourself

As a waste collector or manager you must take all reasonable steps to apply the waste hierarchy as a priority order to the management of your waste and promote 'high quality' recycling.

Since 1 January 2014 in Scotland, and since 1 January 2015 in Northern Ireland, it is the duty of waste producers to take all reasonable steps to present at least the following key dry recyclables for separate collection:

  • metals
  • glass
  • plastics
  • paper, and
  • card (including cardboard)

It is the duty of waste collectors to collect and transport these waste streams separately from other wastes.

If you offer a co-mingled collection to your customers, you must ensure that collection, transport and separation results in wastes which are of comparable quality to separately collected wastes and can be managed in a way that promotes the 'high quality' outcomes set out in the waste hierarchy guidance.

You may need a pollution prevention and control (PPC) permit, waste management licence or exemption from waste management licensing from your environmental regulator to carry out some waste management activities.

If you only store waste that you produce, and it is removed from your site regularly, you shouldn't need a permit or licence. However, if your business carries out other waste management activities, you are likely to need one. This includes activities such as treating or storing other people's waste, or operating a landfill site or incineration plant.

Exemptions from waste management licensing

You can register an exemption for certain types of waste management activity. This means that as long as you comply with the terms of the exemption you will not need a permit or licence. These waste management activities are considered to pose a low risk of harm to the environment and to human health. Examples include:

  • cleaning waste textiles
  • treating waste at its place of production
  • burning plant material on open land at its place of production
  • spreading waste on land
  • storing waste electrical and electronic equipment before recovery elsewhere.

Even if your waste management activities qualify for an exemption, you normally still need to register them with NIEA or SEPA. You should speak to your environmental regulator before you carry out any waste management activities.

Contact your environmental regulator

Transporting waste

If you transport your own or other people's waste, or you act as a waste broker or dealer, you must comply with legal controls. See the page in this guideline on who can deal with your waste.

Recovery of chemicals

If you recover chemical substances from waste, you may be affected by the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) Regulation. REACH aims to protect people and the environment by placing responsibilities on businesses that manufacture, import or recover chemical substances.

Waste is excluded from the provisions of REACH. However, REACH will apply as soon as the waste ceases to be legally defined as waste - for example, when the waste is processed to recover the chemicals contained within it.

Further information

NetRegs: Duty of Care for waste (Scotland) leaflet (PDF - 997KB)

REACH regulations

If you are involved in commercial waste management read our guidance for Waste businesses

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