Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland
International waste shipments (IWS), also known as transfrontier shipments of waste, are movements of waste between countries. If you import waste into or export waste from the UK, you must comply with the international regulations that control waste shipments.
Changes in manufacturing and an increase in recycling means more household and commercial wastes are being exported for recycling overseas. High quality waste materials are a useful sustainable resource.
The illegal export of low quality waste materials can harm the environment and human health.
Before you import or export waste you must check that you are allowed to do so:
This guide provides information on IWS controls, the different classifications of waste and how to import and export them. It provides details of other organisations that can provide further information and the legislation which covers the import and export of waste.
International waste shipment (IWS) controls cover the movement of all waste between countries. This includes movements of waste between the UK and:
Waste shipment controls cover the movement of waste from where it is produced to where it is recovered or disposed of.
The export of waste from the UK for disposal overseas is banned except in a few limited circumstances.
What you must do to comply with waste shipment controls depends on:
Waste shipment controls depend on the classification of the waste you are importing or exporting.
The two main classes of waste under waste shipment controls are:
Green list waste is usually considered a low risk to the environment. Green list waste types are listed in annexes to the Waste Shipment Regulation. For details of green listed waste, you should:
Notifiable waste is considered hazardous or harmful to the environment. Notifiable waste types are listed in annexes to the European Shipments of Waste Regulation. How hazardous waste is defined for waste shipment controls may be different from the definition in the Hazardous or Special Waste Regulations.
Waste considered hazardous is strictly controlled. To export or import this waste, you need the consent of the competent authorities of the countries involved. This consent is called a notification control.
If you are considering importing or exporting notifiable waste, you must contact the NIEA or SEPA before moving it internationally. If you ship waste without the correct permissions, you are committing a criminal offence.
The Environment Agency has developed a tool to help you identify the appropriate classification and controls on waste types intended for export.
If you want to import waste into the UK for disposal or recovery you must check first that you are allowed by contacting the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) or the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).
Waste considered low risk to the environment under the Shipments of Waste Regulations is called green list waste. You can usually import and export these wastes for recovery without the need for prior authorisation. For example, you do not have to notify anyone before you import or export uncontaminated waste paper for recycling. However, you should check first with the NIEA or SEPA.
Waste disposal includes:
Most imports and exports of waste for disposal are banned. Any that are allowed, including imports from UK overseas territories, are covered by notification controls. See the page in this guideline: Importing or exporting waste under notification controls.
If you wish to import waste for disposal you should get advice:
Waste recovery is recycling, reclaiming and regenerating substances from all or part of waste, eg:
You are usually allowed to import green list waste for recovery.
The export of green list waste is subject to further controls depending on the destination country. You should always contact the NIEA or SEPA before exporting green list waste for recovery in another country.
If you import or export green list waste for recovery, you must:
You must also:
If you are unsure if you are allowed to import any type of waste, or if you need permission,
If you import or export waste, you must first check that you are allowed to do so. Importing and exporting certain types of waste to and from some countries is banned.
Waste considered high risk under waste shipment controls is strictly regulated. To export or import this waste you need the consent of the countries involved. This consent is called a notification control.
How hazardous waste is defined for waste shipment controls may be different from the definition in the Hazardous or Special Waste Regulations.
Waste recovery is recycling, reclaiming and regenerating substances from all or part of waste - for example, converting waste into a raw material or using it to generate energy.
Before you move any notifiable waste you should always contact either the NIEA Transfrontier Shipment of Waste Helpline or the SEPA waste shipments unit.
Waste disposal includes incineration without energy generation, landfill and permanent storage of waste.
The import and export of any waste for disposal is banned except in a few limited circumstances. If you intend to import or export waste for disposal, you should either:
In Northern Ireland, you can import or export hazardous waste from the Republic of Ireland for disposal:
This is subject to notification controls. You must apply to the NIEA for permission and send them the correct paperwork.
If you want to import waste covered by notification controls, you must:
If you are importing waste, the competent authority for the country of dispatch (origin) will send the notification package to your competent authority.
If you import waste from outside the EU and recover materials and chemical substances from it, you may need to comply with the REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) Regulation.
This page provides links to the full text of key pieces of environmental legislation relating to importing and exporting waste. The websites hosting the legislation may list amendments separately.
If you are setting up an environmental management system (EMS) for your business, you can use this list to start compiling your legal register. Your legal adviser or environmental consultant will be able to tell you if other environmental legislation applies to your specific business.
European Community (EC) Regulation on shipments of waste 1013/2006 European legislation that provides the framework for controls on importing and exporting waste.
EC Regulation 669/2008 on completing Annex IC of Regulation 1013/2006 European legislation that provides specific instructions for completing notification and movement documents under Regulation 1013/2006.
Transfrontier Shipment of Waste Regulations SI 2007/1711Sets out rules for shipping waste, including within the European Community, and importing and exporting to and from countries outside the EC.
Transfrontier Shipment of Waste (Amendment) Regulations SI 2008/9 Amends 2007/1711 by introducing new penalties for failing to provide proper documentation when exporting waste for recovery.
Transfrontier Shipment of Waste (Amendment) Regulations 2014 SI 861Amends the Transfrontier Shipment of Waste Regulations 2007 to redefine the competent authorities and transfer some of the responsibilities from the Secretary of State to the Environment Agency, SEPA, DOENI; and Environment Agency to Natural Resources Wales. Provide a power for HMRC to disclose information to competant authorities for enforcement purposes; allow Border Force to stop and detain waste for up to five working days in prescribed circumstances. Make changes to the fees for notification of waste shipments starting or finishing in Northern Ireland.
You may also need to know about and comply with legislation on:
You can also find current and future legislation lists:
A new framework for tackling waste has been unveiled by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), focussing on how SEPA will support a circular economy in Scotland.
One Planet Prosperity – A Waste to Resources Framework
The Northern Ireland Environment Agency has published a short guide to the duty of care responsibilities including advice and information for waste producers, carriers and those accepting, storing and treating waste.
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