Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

More waste treatment processes (A-O)

More guidance on waste treatment processes in alphabetical order from A to O

Additional resources

  

You may be able to treat your biodegradable waste using anaerobic digestion. This uses natural bacteria to convert waste into:

  • biogas, which can be used to generate electricity and/or heat
  • liquid, which can be used as a fertiliser
  • solid, which can be used a soil improver.

What you must do

Operating an anaerobic digester

Before you operate an anaerobic digester to treat food waste you must have a pollution prevention and control (PPC) permit, waste management licence or registered exemption.

Pollution prevention and control permits

Waste management licences

You may need to register a paragraph 13 exemption for composting and storing biodegradable waste in Northern Ireland. If you have an exemption, you must comply with the exemption conditions.

NIEA: Paragraph 13 Composting and storage of biodegradable waste

If your waste includes animal by-products you must have approval for your anaerobic digester from Animal Health in Scotland or the Divisional Veterinary Offices (DVO) in Northern Ireland.

Animal by-products and food waste

Burning biogas as fuel

If you burn biogas you must have a:

  • waste management licence for appliances with a rated thermal input up to 3 megawatts
  • a pollution prevention and control permit for appliances with a rated thermal input of 3 megawatts or more.

Pollution prevention and control permits

Waste management licences

You may be able to register an exemption from the need to hold a permit or licence if your appliance has a net rated thermal input of less than 0.4 megawatts.

If you operate under a registered exemption you must still ensure that your activity does not:

  • endanger human health
  • cause pollution to water, air or soil
  • cause a risk to plants or animals
  • cause a nuisance in terms of noise or odour
  • adversely affect the countryside or places of special interest.

NIEA: Paragraph 7 – burning of waste as a fuel in an appliance

SEPA: Waste management licensing exemptions

NIEA: Waste management licensing simple exemptions

NIEA: Waste management licensing complex exemptions

SEPA has produced guidance that explains how they will regulate the use and handling of digestate outputs from the AD process.

SEPA: Regulation of Outputs from Anaerobic Digestion Processes

Balers, compactors, crumbers, granulators and shredders reduce the volume of materials, making them easier, safer, and more cost effective to transport, recycle or reprocess.

What you must do

De-pollution

Many items must be treated to remove hazardous elements (de-polluted) before baling, compaction, crumbing, granulation or shredding.

You may require a pollution prevention and control permit if you de-pollute materials yourself.

Contact your environmental regulator

Does your recycling and reprocessing business need a permit, licence or exemption?

Examples of items that you must de-pollute include:

  • fluorescent light tubes
  • cathode ray tubes
  • &items that contain ozone depleting substances, eg fridges
  • wood contaminated with paint, creosote, glues or varnishes
  • containers used for hazardous/special waste, eg engine oil or pesticide containers.

You must also de-pollute end-of-life vehicles and waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) to specific standards. Most materials requiring de-pollution are also classified as hazardous/special waste.

End-of-life vehicles

Hazardous / special waste

SEPA: Guidance on the storage and treatment of End of Life Vehicles

Waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE)

You must not recycle any of these materials before they have been de-polluted. This could cause significant pollution on your site. For example, an incorrectly compacted fluorescent tube could spread mercury throughout your site, creating a major pollution risk.

You could be prosecuted if your recycling processes or materials cause land, water or air pollution.

Contaminated land

Air pollution from furnaces, boilers and bonfires

Preventing water pollution

You must also hold a waste management licence or register an exemption to carry out any de-pollution, baling, compaction, crumbing, granulation or shredding. You must also meet your requirements under the Duty of Care.

Your waste responsibilities

Examples of materials which generally do not require de-pollution prior to processing include packaging waste such as aluminium or steel cans, plastic bottles and cardboard.

General operations

Operate your equipment under cover using designated, signed processing areas located on hard, waterproof surfaces. Signing processing areas will help minimise contamination. Store materials separately in labelled cages. These steps will help minimise pollution, if for example there are fuel, oil or coolant spills or if bales break.

Fuelling and fuel storage

Oil storage

Chemical storage

Waste storage and transport

Liquids and spills

Install systems to collect liquid run-off produced in your operations. For example, your operations could contaminate water with cleaning detergents or oil. Discharge the run-off to your foul drainage system using an interceptor or alternative treatment system.

Discharges to water and sewer

Use drip trays to collect any potential spills when you change oil or coolants. Treat oils or coolants as hazardous/special waste. If you operate a small waste oil burner in Northern Ireland you must have a Part A Pollution Prevention Control (PPC) permit from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency.

Hazardous / special waste

Oil recycling

Store all chemicals in an area where spills can be contained. This should be within a secondary containment system (SCS), such as a bund. The SCS should be able to contain at least 110% of the volume of the largest tank or 25% of the total volume likely to be stored, whichever is greater.

Dust and noise

Baling, compacting, shredding and crumbing create fine particles of dust, and can spread small pieces of materials, such as plastic or cardboard around your processing areas.

You must not allow these materials to cause pollution. For example, you must not allow fine plastics dust to enter a surface drain. Install mesh screens and flaps on the input and output areas and hoppers on your equipment. These prevent materials escaping from your equipment and causing pollution.

Fumes may be generated by granulators or crumbers. Install exhaust ventilation systems.

Granulators and recycling equipment create high volumes of noise, sometimes in excess of 100dB. You must prevent noise creating a nuisance.

Dust

Noise, odour and vibration from recycling and reprocessing

Air pollution from furnaces, boilers and bonfires

Good practice

Sweep down your processing areas daily, and wash them down weekly, to minimise build up of dirt, processed materials and dust. This reduces contamination on your materials, increases the efficiency and life span of your equipment, and minimises fire risk.

Check valves and pipes on your equipment regularly for leaks or breaks. This increases the efficiency and lifespan of your equipment and minimises the potential for spills. An increase in the volume of oil or coolant your equipment uses may indicate leaks.

Contact your equipment manufacturers, and schedule regular maintenance checks. Record the results. Repair any outstanding faults promptly.

Prevent potential fire when baling or shredding tyres, cardboard, plastics or paper for recycling. Do not overload balers or shredders, or insert materials too quickly. Remove contaminants such as adhesive tape or staples from paper, plastics and cardboard before baling or shredding. This minimises the risk of contaminants becoming caught within your equipment and jamming it, increasing the potential for pollution and fire.

Keep fire extinguishers and alarms near to your equipment. Prevent flammable materials from building up around the equipment, especially underneath it. Enforce smoking bans.

Firefighting

Further information

The Chartered Institution of Wastes Management is a membership association offering training, support and technical advice to the recycling industry.

Chartered Institution of Wastes Management

Letsrecycle.com: Balers, crusheres, compactors and shredders

Resource Efficient Scotland: Recycling Directory

This guidance is for recycling businesses that recycle batteries.

There are three categories of waste batteries:

  • automotive batteries
  • industrial batteries
  • portable batteries.

For further information, see our batteries guidance.

If you want to apply to offer a battery compliance scheme that collects, treats and recycles waste portable batteries, you must register with your environmental regulator between 15 April and 15 May in the year before you operate the scheme.

Contact your environmental regulator

What you must do

Apply for a permit or licence

If you treat or recycle waste batteries you must have a waste management licence.

You must comply with the conditions in your licence or you can be fined or sent to prison.

If you treat waste batteries and your waste management licence was issued before the dates listed in the table below, you must comply with the following conditions:

  • remove all fluids and acids from the batteries
  • store waste batteries, and the materials that result from treatment, in secure, covered and impermeable areas.

These conditions have been added to your permit by law.

Key dates

Northern Ireland Scotland
20 May 2009 6 July 2009

If your waste management licence was issued after these dates, you must comply with the conditions in your permit.

Apply to be an approved battery treatment operator

As well as having a waste management licence, you must apply to your environmental regulator to be an approved battery treatment operator (ABTO) if you want to:

  • carry out the initial treatment or recycling of automotive or industrial batteries
  • issue batteries evidence notes for the treatment and recycling of waste portable batteries

Apply to be an approved battery exporter

You must apply to your environmental regulator to be an approved battery exporter (ABE) if you want to:

  • export waste industrial or automotive batteries for treatment or recycling
  • issue batteries evidence notes for exporting waste portable batteries for treatment and recycling.

If you collect and transport batteries you must be a registered waste carrier or hold an exemption.

Waste carriers, brokers and dealers

Hazardous/special waste

Most waste batteries are classified as hazardous/special waste. They contain potentially harmful chemicals and metals. You must follow regulations for dealing with hazardous/special waste.

Hazardous / special waste

Batteries contain chemicals that are highly polluting, flammable and explosive.

Keep spill kits near to where you might need them with clear instructions for their use. Make sure your staff know where they are and how to use them.

They can contain:

  • absorbent materials, eg sand
  • containment equipment, eg booms
  • pumps and suction equipment
  • pipe blockers
  • drain mats.

Make an inventory of all the equipment and materials you have on site. These should be suitable for the type and quantity of fuel, oil and chemicals you store and use.

Storage, handling and transport

Store and transport batteries in cases that are secure, waterproof, flame resistant, acid and alkali leak proof, shockproof and clearly labelled. Ensure your collection vehicles have adequate facilities, including lockable stillages, to transport batteries safely.

Group batteries by their chemistry. For example, store lead-acid batteries together and do not mix them with non lead-acid batteries, as this could cause a chemical reaction. Consider using software navigation systems to help you track consignments more efficiently.

You must ensure batteries are not crushed, compacted, or suffer any breaks to their seals and casings. For example, if the casing of a lithium ion battery, such as those used in mobile phones, became cracked and exposed to water during transportation, the battery could become flammable, and could also cause pollution from chemicals leaking through the casing.

Firefighting

You must prevent short circuits. A crushed or cracked battery can short circuit internally and become flammable. Secure your batteries firmly during transportation to prevent movement and damage. Pack batteries individually to prevent them touching one another, or any other metal or liquid surface that could cause short circuiting.

If you handle vented batteries (batteries which vent gases to the atmosphere) you must keep them well ventilated at all times to prevent the build up of potentially explosive gases.

Do not dismantle batteries yourself. This is highly dangerous.

Health and Safety Executive: Using electric storage batteries safely (Adobe PDF - 164KB)

Waste storage and transport

WRAP: Batteries

Contact the battery manufacturer before you store, handle or transport the batteries. Ask for the relevant Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). This will describe the chemicals in the battery.

Ban on battery disposal

You must not dispose of waste industrial or automotive batteries in a landfill or by incineration. This does not include residues that have been treated and recycled in accordance with the batteries regulations.

Waste Batteries and Accumulators Regulations 2009

Waste Batteries (Scotland) Regulations 2009

Landfill

Store all chemicals in an area where spills can be contained. This should be within a secondary containment system (SCS), such as a bund. The SCS should be able to contain at least 110% of the volume of the largest tank or 25% of the total volume likely to be stored, whichever is greater.

Have a pollution incident response procedure for dealing with spills. Ensure your staff understand the procedure and know how to follow it.

Report pollution incidents to the incident hotline as soon as they happen on 0800 80 70 60.

PPG 21: Pollution incident response planning

Minimise storage times for batteries on your site. Plan ahead for busy periods and try to co-ordinate collections so that batches ready for transportation to reprocessors accumulate quickly.

Store batteries as far away as possible from any drains, watercourses, or surface waters.

Oil storage

Chemical storage

Water pollution

Burning waste materials is a type of waste disposal.

What you must do

If you burn waste in the open on your site you may require a waste management licence or exemption.

You may qualify for an exemption to burn certain waste plant tissue and untreated wood if:

  • you burn the waste at the place where it was produced
  • you burn up to 10 tonnes in a 24-hour period.

The exemption you may require is a paragraph 30 exemption.

If you have an exemption, you must comply with its conditions.

You must register this exemption with your environmental regulator.

You must still ensure that your activity does not:

  • endanger human health or cause pollution to water, air or soil
  • constitute a risk to plants or animals 
  • cause a nuisance in terms of noise, dust, fumes, smoke and odour 
  • adversely affect the countryside or places of special interest.

NIEA: Paragraph 30 - Burning waste on land in the open

SEPA: Waste management licensing exemptions

Waste management licences

If you are disposing of waste by burning it in an incinerator or other similar plant, you will need a pollution prevention and control (PPC) permit.

Pollution prevention and control permits

What you must do

The Waste Incineration Directive (WID) is a European law which aims to prevent or limit the negative effects of waste incineration on the environment. If you burn solid or liquid waste then the WID is likely to apply to you.

If you operate a combustion unit that burns waste or recovered oils, including waste vegetable oils, there are specific rules you must follow.

Waste incineration

What you must do

Burying farm waste

You must not bury waste in a farm dump or tip on your farm unless you hold a pollution prevention and control (PPC) permit.

Contact your environmental regulator

However, turning a farm dump into a compliant landfill site is an impractical and expensive solution for most farmers.

Landfill

Pollution prevention and control permits

Burning farm waste

You must not burn non-natural farm waste, such as plastic and tyres, in the open.

You can burn natural farm waste like crop residues (from linseed, cereals, oil seed rape, peas and beans), hedge trimmings and other untreated wood in the open. However, you must register an exemption with your environmental regulator.

Exemptions for agricultural waste recovery

In Northern Ireland you are no longer allowed to use a drum incinerator to burn empty pesticide containers.

In Scotland, contact your local SEPA office before you consider burning containers in a drum incinerator. You can use a drum incinerator in certain circumstances, but you must first register an exemption with SEPA.

If you operate any incinerator that is more advanced than a drum incinerator, contact your local council in Northern Ireland, or SEPA in Scotland. You may require a permit to operate or you may need to register an exemption. This depends on:

  • the types of waste you are burning
  • the purpose of incineration
  • the nature of the incinerator.

Contact your local council

Contact SEPA

Waste incineration

Waste management licensing: licences and exemptions

Further information

In Northern Ireland, see section 11 of the DARD code of good agricultural practice for water, air and soil.

DAERA: Code of good agricultural practice for the prevention of pollution of water, air and soil

In Scotland, see section 12 of the Prevention of Environmental Pollution from Agricultural Activity (PEPFAA) Code.

Scottish Government: Prevention of Environmental Pollution from Agricultural Activity (PEPFAA Code) 2005 (Scotland) (Adobe PDF - 1.34MB)

Chemicals are generally treated, recovered or reused as part of a business' manufacturing processes, or they are sent to specialist recycling businesses for recycling, incineration or disposal. This guidance is for businesses that recycle or reprocess chemicals.

What you must do

If you manufacture, import or use any chemical substances, preparations or articles you must comply with the REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) Regulation.

If you make a product from waste by recovering a chemical substance in quantities of one tonne per year or more, the REACH Regulations may apply to you.

Does your recycling and reprocessing business need a permit, licence or exemption?

If you store, handle, transport, treat, recover, reuse or recycle waste chemicals, you must hold a waste management licenceor an exemption and you must meet your requirements under the duty of care.

Duty of Care: Your waste responsibilities

Most chemicals are classified as hazardous/special waste. You must follow regulations for dealing with hazardous/special waste.

Hazardous / special waste

You must not make any discharge to surface water or groundwater without consulting your environmental regulator. If you discharge without an authorisation, permit or consent from your environmental regulator you could be prosecuted and fined or imprisoned.

Preventing water pollution

You must not discharge trade effluent to a public sewer without trade effluent consent or a trade effluent agreement with your water and sewerage company or authority. If you discharge without a consent or agreement you could be prosecuted and fined or imprisoned.

Trade effluent - managing liquid wastes

You must ensure that your activities do not cause land, air or water pollution.

Land contamination

Oil storage

Chemical storage

Storage and transport

Ensure you use colour coded bins, storage compartments, drums and containers for waste chemicals. These must be secure, weatherproof, waterproof, flame resistant, shockproof and leak proof. Use centralised waste segregation and collection facilities. This minimises the risk of employees placing waste in the wrong containers and contaminating other wastes.

Do not mix hazardous/special waste with non hazardous/special waste. Segregate acids and alkalis, spent reactant solutions, catalysts, process liquors, filter cakes, organic solvents and aqueous washings by their chemical content. This makes storage safer, and makes them easier to recycle.

Use Safety Data Sheets to describe the waste chemicals you transport for recycling, incineration or disposal. Ensure all containers are labelled.

Waste storage and transport

Solvent recovery systems

If you use solvent recovery systems, such as condensers or adsorption columns in process vent extraction systems, or separation techniques such as distillation and centrifuging, you must comply with solvent emissions regulations.

Solvent emissions

Regularly check all vessel seals, lids, filling pipes, valves and condensers for leaks, and record and repair any faults promptly.

Implement a solvent management plan. This should identify the volumes of solvent you use, solvent recovery technologies, and alternatives to reduce your use of organic solvents, eg water based solvents.

Photographic chemicals

Trade effluent is any liquid waste you discharge from your business.

Before you discharge trade effluent into a public sewer you must have a trade effluent consent or enter into a trade effluent agreement with your water or sewerage company or authority. You must comply with the conditions of your consent or agreement.

Trade effluent - managing liquid wastes

Water UK: Water and sewerage operators

You must use a registered recycling contractor for treating and recovering silver from developing baths, developer and activator solutions, fixer solutions, photoprocessing rinse waters, bleach and bleach fixer solutions.

SEPA: PPC UK Technical Guidance for Chemicals

Good practice

Use chemical recovery techniques to recover reactants and by-products from your solutions and effluents. These techniques include precipitation, electrochemical recovery, reverse osmosis and ultra filtration.

Install filter presses to dewater your filter cakes. This reduces disposal costs and transportation emissions. You may also be able to recover chemicals from the filter cakes and adjust the pH to further reduce your disposal costs. You should send filter cakes to specialist contractors for chemical recovery.

Use solvents and bio cleaners that have a low volatile organic compound (VOC) content.

Send your spent catalysts to specialist contractors for treatment and recovery of valuable metals.

Use 'fast reactors' instead of stirred tank reactors. This will maximise your efficiency and minimise your raw materials use and aqueous wastes.

Improve your mixing vessel design to eliminate blind spots during reaction and product separation. This will reduce waste.

Consider using software navigation systems to ensure you can track the progress of chemicals during transport

The Chemical Industries Association offers advice and support to businesses involved in the chemicals sector.

Chemical Industries Association

Chipping wood and other plant material is a type of waste treatment.

What you must do

Carrying out waste disposal activities on your site may require a:

  • registered exemption
  • waste management licence or
  • pollution prevention and control (PPC) permit

You may qualify for an exemption to chip, shred, cut or pulverise waste plant material if:

  • the material is to be recovered or reused
  • the quantity does not exceed 1,000 tonnes over any period of seven days.

The exemption you may require is a paragraph 21 exemption.

You must register this exemption with your environmental regulator.

You must still ensure that your activity does not:

  • endanger human health or cause pollution to water, air or soil
  • constitute a risk to plants or animals
  • cause a nuisance in terms of noise, dust, fumes, smoke and odour
  • adversely affect the countryside or places of special interest.

NIEA: Paragraph 21 - Chipping, shredding, cutting or pulverising plant matter

SEPA: Waste management licensing exemptions

Waste management licences

If you are shredding waste plant material in several locations on an extended site, for example a motorway embankment, you can register a single exemption for the work.

Composting is the biological decomposition of biodegradable waste. It is an important waste treatment method and reduces the amount of waste going to landfill. Composting done in a controlled way produces a safe material that can be used to improve land.

What you must do

Making compost

If you make compost from waste materials or store compost made from waste materials you must have a waste management licence, or have registered an exemption with your environmental regulator.

In Northern Ireland, to make compost under an exemption you must:

  • only produce the compost at the site where the waste is produced
  • apply the compost only on the ground where it is produced
  • not keep livestock on the site.

In Scotland:

Under a paragraph 12 exemption, you may make compost, as long as you:

  • compost, on your farm, using only material arising on your farm - a maximum of 1,000 tones of material at any one time; or
  • bring to your site material produced elsewhere, to compost - a maximum of 400 tones of material at any one time.

Under a paragraph 7 exemption, you may apply compost on a farm.

In Northern ireland and in Scotland, if you compost animal by-products or catering waste you must meet the requirements of the Animal By–products Regulations. You must have an authorisation from:

  • the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) in Northern Ireland
  • your local Animal and Plant Health Agency Office (AHDO) in Scotland.

DAERA: Guidance on composting and biogas in approved plants (Northern Ireland)

Scotland: Animal and Plant Health Agency: Divisional offices (scroll down to the bottom of the page)

SEPA: Waste management licensing exemptions

If your composting activities create noise, dust or odour at levels that could cause a nuisance or complaints from the surrounding community, SEPA (if your activity is under a registered exemption with SEPA) or your local environmental health department can:

  • place restrictions on your operations
  • stop your operations
  • require you to take steps to reduce the nuisance.

Noise, odour and other nuisances

Organics Recycling: An industry guide for the prevention and control of odours at biowaste processing facilities

You must ensure that waste that you handle and store on your site does not pollute rain water runoff.

Transporting and using compost

You must be a registered waste carrier or exempt from registration if you:

  • transport waste you intend to compost
  • transport compost made from waste unless the compost is classed as no longer being waste (see position statement or Quality Protocol below).

In Northern Ireland, if you normally and regularly carry your own business waste you must register with the NIEA as a lower tier waste carrier. If you transport your own construction or demolition waste you must register with NIEA as an upper tier waste carrier.

In Scotland if you normally and regularly transport waste produced by your own business, you must register with SEPA as a professional collector or transporter of waste. This is a new requirement for businesses. If you transport your own construction or demolition waste you must usually register as a waste carrier. You will soon be able to register online. SEPA recommends you delay your registration until the online system is available. If you need to register sooner, download the application form from the SEPA website.

SEPA: Application form to register as a professional collector or transporter of waste (Adobe PDF - 54KB)

NIEA: Registration of carriers application guidance

You must have a waste management licence or have registered an exemption with your environmental regulator if you use compost made from waste materials.

Waste management licensing

Waste carriers, brokers and dealers

Good practice

In Scotland, SEPA has issued a position statement stating that compost is likely to be considered no longer waste (i.e. it is fully recovered) if it:

  • is produced for a market
  • meets the market's quality standards before the compost is blended with other wastes, materials, composts, products or additives (where the standards are designed to ensure that the compost can be used with no negative impact on the environment or human health)
  • is put to use without further treatment.

SEPA: Paragraph 12 Exemption (Composting) Technical Guidance Note (section 2.8)

In Northern Ireland, the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) has issued a position statement on the regulation of composting operations following the publication of the Quality Protocol for the use of quality compost from source-segregated biodegradable waste. It clarifies when such material will be regarded as having ceased to be waste and can be used without the need for waste management controls. In summary, provided the requirements of the Quality Protocol (including the PAS100 standard) is met in full, the quality compost will no longer be regarded as waste and the waste management controls will not apply to its onward transfer and use.

NIEA: Compost and Anaerobic Digestate – Responsibilities

NIEA: Compost quality protocol

In Northern Ireland a Quality Protocol (QP) checker provides an easy, quick and cost effective way for both new and existing producers to check that they meet the QP quality requirements and any other underlying specifications. The tool creates a user report that documents performance and pinpoints any areas where improvements are needed. It can also be used as an internal audit check and will support a more robust and compliance regime. The tool covers compost and aggregates only, at present.

Northern Ireland: End of waste regulations

Further information

Northern Ireland

NIEA: Registering an exempt activity

NIEA: Composting and storage of biodegradable waste paragraph 13 exemption from Waste Management Licensing

Scotland

SEPA: Composting

SEPA: Waste management licensing exemptions

Zero Waste Scotland: Compost comes of age

SEPA has produced guidance that explains when waste derived composts are fully recovered, and do not require waste regulatory control. This guidance replaces earlier guidance from 2004

 SEPA: Regulation of Outputs from Composting Processes

UK wide

Association of Organics Recycling: Composting industry code of practice

Community Composting Network

Catering waste

You can produce compost or biogas from catering waste collected from canteens and dining areas as long as the process complies with the requirements of the Animal By-Products Regulations. You must follow certain procedures, making this technically more difficult than composting green waste. Setting up biogas production involves a large capital expenditure.

What you must do

The Animal By-Products Regulations allow the composting of catering waste to take place without the need for an authorisation if certain conditions are met. You must:

  • produce the compost on the private grounds belonging to the establishment where the catering waste is produced
  • apply the compost on the grounds of premises where it is produced
  • not keep ruminant animals or pigs on the land. If you keep birds such as chickens, then the composting area must be designed to prevent the birds gaining access.

These measures aim to encourage home composting but they also apply to a number of other locations. If you have private grounds then you are exempt from the regulations. If you want to compost catering waste within yur private grounds you must register an exemption from waste management licensing with your environmental regulator.

Waste management licences

If your business or organisation is sited on communal grounds you are therefore not exempt from the requirements of the regulations. If you want to compost catering waste from facilities on your site you must follow the guidance below.

Approval to operate

Before you compost or treat any catering waste, you must obtain authorisation from:

  • your local Animal Health Divisional Office (AHDO) in Scotland
  • the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARDNI) in Northern Ireland.

Animal and Plant Health Agency

Animal and Plant Health: Application and inspection form to treat animal by-products and catering waste (Scotland)

DAERA: Animal by-products - Guidance and application for composting (Northern Ireland)

Once your site is authorised, you must monitor and review your activities on an ongoing basis. Your AHDO or DARD will advise you when your authorisation will require renewal.

You must also hold a waste management licence or register an exemption, and meet your requirements under the duty of care.

Duty of care - your waste responsibilities

Hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP)

Once you have completed the application form, you must also supply an HACCP plan to your AHDO (Scotland) or your Divisional Veterinary Office (Northern Ireland).

Site layout

You must separate catering waste and the resulting compost from all other wastes throughout the composting process. You must not mix catering waste that contains meat with catering waste that does not contain meat.

You must not compost catering waste on any site that also houses livestock, eg pigs. This prevents livestock transmitting diseases caused by pathogens within compost.

You must treat any garden waste, eg grass or leaves which has had any contact with catering waste, as catering waste itself.

You must wash the wheels of vehicles that come into contact with compost. This will help prevent the spread of any diseases.

Vehicle cleaning (including wheel washing)

Composting facilities

There are two kinds of composting facilities that you can use to compost catering waste:

  • in-vesselfacilities, ie sealed composting units
  • housed windrow facilities, ie composting heaps within buildings, which are protected from the weather, birds and pests.

Composting standards

You must meet one of the following standards for composting catering waste.

In-vessel facilities must heat compost to a minimum temperature of 60°C, for at least two days.

Housed windrow facilities (windrow composting is only permitted when housed) must heat compost to a minimum temperature of 60°C for at least eight days. During this period, the compost must be turned at least three times in every two day period.

If the catering waste contains meat, both in-vessel and housed windrow facilities must then complete a second composting stage, using the same temperatures and composting durations as above. You can complete this second composting stage outdoors.

If the catering waste does not contain meat (meat-excluded catering waste) you must store it for 18 days after the first stage instead of completing a secondary composting stage.

You must monitor and provide evidence that you are meeting these standards as a condition of your authorisation to operate.

Useful links

Animal by-products and food waste

The Community Composting Network

Association for Organics Recycling

Scottish Government: Animal by-products

NIEA: Composting guidance

SEPA: Composting and anaerobic digestion

SEPA has produced guidance that explains when waste derived composts are fully recovered, and do not require waste regulatory control. This guidance replaces earlier guidance from 2004

 SEPA: Regulation of Outputs from Composting Processes

Many businesses and offices use small composters to compost biodegradable material such as apple cores and tea bags.

Some businesses have extensive grounds, sometimes including sports facilities. Maintenance of these areas can produce large quantities of green waste in the form of grass cuttings, shrub and hedge clippings and wood from tree surgery and felling. You can re-use much of this material on your grounds if you shred or compost it.

What you must do

Small composters

Small scale composters are commonly used to compost vegetable material from staff rooms and lunch boxes. In schools for example these can provide a valuable teaching aid for a number of topics. Many offices have small composters within their grounds.

You must register small composters with your environmental regulator.

Contact your environmental regulator

In Scotland, SEPA has produced a single registration form which allows multiple registrations from multiple small composting units at different sites. This reduces the administration required, for example by a local council which encourages composting in all its schools. You can obtain this form from your local SEPA office.

SEPA: Contact details

Green waste

If contractors remove green waste material on your behalf, you must ensure that they transport and dispose of it legally.

Duty of care - your waste responsibilities

If you carry out the work yourself, you can use the green waste to produce compost for use on your site, or carry out cutting, shredding, chipping or pulverisation of wood waste for recovery purposes. This can produce compost, chipped bark, wood shavings or sawdust for mulching and soil improvement.

In Northern Ireland if you normally and regularly carry waste in the course of your day-to-day business or with a view to profit, and if you carry certain specific waste types, especially construction and demolition waste, you must be registered as a waste carrier with the Northern Ireland Environment Agency.

Northern Ireland - Guidance on who should register

In Scotland if you normally and regularly transport waste produced by your own business, you must register with SEPA as a professional collector or transporter of waste. This is a new requirement for businesses. If you transport your own construction or demolition waste you must usually register as a waste carrier. You will soon be able to register online. SEPA recommends you delay your registration until the online system is available. If you need to register sooner, download the application form from the SEPA website.

SEPA: Application form to register as a professional collector or transporter of waste (Adobe PDF -

See our guidance on waste carriers, brokers and dealers.

If you store less than 1,000 cubic metres , or 400 tonnes at any one time in Scotland, of biodegradable waste you can register an exemption with your environmental regulator. For larger quantities you will require a waste management licence. You may also have to meet other conditions specified by your environmental regulator, for example sighting of the composting area away from surface water drains or watercourses.

You will have to register an exemption with your environmental regulator if you chip, shred or cut waste wood for recovery purposes and you handle less than 1,000 tonnes per week (400 tonnes at any one time in Scotland). For larger quantities you will require a licence.

Contact your environmental regulator

Further information

Zero Waste Scotland: Composting fact sheets

Wild about gardens: The Compost Heap

Garden Organic: Composting, helping you 'grow your own',

Composting produces a natural liquid residue (leachate) which can be highly polluting.

What you must do

You must hold a waste management licence or exemption to carry out composting activities. In Scotland, only meat excluded catering waste can be composted under an exemption. You must also meet your requirements under the Duty of Care.

If you compost catering waste, you must also comply with Animal by-products regulations.

Animal by-products and food waste

Catering waste

You must ensure that leachate or contaminated run-off does not cause any pollution to land, surface, or groundwater pollution.

Preventing water pollution

Land contamination

You must locate all compost treatment areas on waterproof, weatherproof surfaces with sealed drainage.

Trade effluent - managing liquid wastes

Contact your environmental regulator

In Northern Ireland you must have a discharge consent, groundwater authorisation or a pollution prevention and control (PPC) permit before you discharge anything other than clean uncontaminated water to the environment. This includes sewage, trade effluent or contaminated surface run-off.

NIEA: Regulation of water discharges

In Scotland you must comply with the Controlled Activities Regulations (CAR) when making discharges. Some discharges of water run-off to surface water and groundwater are authorised if you comply with the general binding rules (GBR). In such cases, you do not need to apply for authorisation from SEPA. For other discharges you may need to register or get a licence.

SEPA: CAR – A practical guide (Adobe PDF - 562KB)

You must comply with all the conditions of your authorisation, permit or consent.

You must ensure that any contaminated water or leachate is only taken off-site by a business that holds a waste carrier's registration or waste management licence or an exemption.

Waste carriers, brokers and dealers

You must keep all leachate separate from treated compost. This prevents contamination.

Good practice

Set up a system to hold and manage leachate. This could consist of a containment tank or a lagoon.

You must measure and detect when storage systems are nearly full. Plan collections or treatment in advance to minimise the risk of pollution from overflowing storage systems.

Locate your composting facilities inside and under cover. This will prevent rainwater accessing your facilities, and will reduce the volumes of leachate you have to deal with. If you cannot locate your facilities inside, cover your compost with sheeting to protect it from rainwater.

Minimise the time you store leachate on your site. This will reduce the risk of odours.

In certain situations, you may be able to recirculate the leachate into your compost to maintain the correct moisture balance.

Store all chemicals in an area where spills can be contained. This should be within a secondary containment system (SCS), such as a bund. The SCS should be able to contain at least 110% of the volume of the largest tank or 25% of the total volume likely to be stored, whichever is greater.

Further information

Association for organics recycling

What you must do

Site-gained concrete, bricks, tiles or other materials can be crushed and reused as sub-base or fill. You should consider broken-out concrete to be waste if you discard it, intend to discard it or are required to discard it for any reason. As such it is subject to the duty of care and waste management licensing.

Duty of care - your waste responsibilities

Waste management licences

If you transport concrete and other materials off your site to be crushed, make sure that you have the appropriate waste transfer documentation.

If you are a construction or demolition business and you are carrying your own waste, you will need to register as a waste carrier with your environmental regulator.

Waste carriers, brokers and dealers

Treating waste on your site will require a waste management licence, registered exemption or pollution prevention and control (PPC) permit.

The exemption you may require is a paragraph 24 exemption.

If you have an exemption, you must comply with the exemption conditions.

You will need to register this exemption with the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) in Northern Ireland or SEPA in Scotland.

You must still ensure that your activity does not:

  • endanger human health or cause pollution to water, air or soil
  • constitute a risk to plants or animals
  • cause a nuisance in terms of noise, dust, fumes, smoke and odour
  • adversely affect the countryside or places of special interest.

NIEA: Paragraph 24 – crushing and grinding of waste bricks, tiles or concrete

SEPA: Waste management licensing exemptions

Waste management licences

If concrete, bricks, tiles or other material are to be crushed at a processing plant on site, you must ensure that the crushing plant has:

  • a PPC Part C permit from the local council in Northern Ireland
  • a PPC Part B permit from SEPA in Scotland.

Defra: Process Guidance Note 3/16 (04) – Mobile Crushing and Screening (Adobe PDF - 429KB)

Pollution prevention and control permits

Recycled aggregates

If you recover aggregates from construction, demolition and excavation waste and sell them as products (recycled aggregates), rather than waste, you must comply with the REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) Regulation.

For further information on REACH and recycled aggregates visit the WRAP website.

WRAP: REACH - Obligations for producers of recycled and other recovered aggregates

For further information on REACH see the NetRegs REACH guidance.

REACH Regulation - manufacturing, importing, selling and using chemicals

Northern Ireland

The NIEA in association with the EA and WRAP have revised the end of waste Quality Protocol (October 2013) for the production of aggregates from inert waste. It reflects the latest approved industry standards, including factory production control, and incorporates other improvements and clarifications to make it easier for producers and users to ensure full compliance with the end of waste criteria.

WRAP: Aggregates from inert waste

Good practice

The WRAP Aggregates Programme promotes sustainable use of aggregates. It reduces the demand for primary aggregates by encouraging greater use of recycled and secondary aggregates.

WRAP Aggregates Programme

NIEA: Construction and Demolition Waste and Recycled Concrete

You may be able to reuse waste tiles or other ceramics within your production process, or use them as an input to another process. For example, you can use unrecoverable fired ceramic waste from pottery production as a raw material in tile manufacture.

What you must do

If you are crushing or grinding glazed ceramics with machinery designed for the purpose, then you may need:

  • in Northern Ireland, a waste management licence, registered exemption or part C pollution prevention and control (PPC) permit
  • in Scotland, a waste management licence, registered exemption or part B PPC permit.

You may also need a permit, licence or exemption if you store waste tiles prior to crushing or grinding on site.

The exemption for crushing and grinding would be a paragraph 24 exemption.

If you have an exemption, you must comply with the exemption conditions.

You will need to register this exemption with the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) in Northern Ireland or SEPA in Scotland.

You must still ensure that your activity does not:

  • endanger human health or cause pollution to water, air or soil
  • cause a risk to plants or animals
  • cause a nuisance in terms of noise, dust, fumes, smoke or odour
  • adversely affect the countryside or places of special interest.

Contact your local council

NIEA: Paragraph 24 - crushing and grinding of waste bricks, tiles or concrete

SEPA: Waste management licensing exemptions

Waste management licences

You can treat waste using thermal and non-thermal technology to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill and produce heat, gas or electricity.

Energy-from-waste processes may produce waste by-products that need to be disposed of at landfill, such as ash or digestate.

What you must do

Check if you need a permit, licence or registered exemption

If you burn, heat or digest waste to generate gas, heat or electricity you must have a pollution prevention and control permit, waste management licence or registered exemption.

Does your waste or sewage business need a permit, licence or exemption?

Comply with your permit, licence or registered exemption

If you burn waste, you must also comply with any conditions set by your environmental regulator under the waste incineration directive. For further information, see our guidance for waste incinerators

Good practice

Choose appropriate energy-from-waste technology

You can use different technologies to generate energy-from-waste, including:

Incineration, ie burning waste in an incinerator or furnace to produce electricity and heat.

Gasification, ie using heat to convert solid biomass into a gaseous fuel. Gasification produces a synthetic gas, syngas, which can be cleaned and used to generate electricity or steam.

Pyrolysis, ie using heat to break down waste without oxygen. Pyrolysis produces a synthetic gas, pyrolysisgas, which can be used to generate electricity or steam, pyrolysis oil and a solid charcoal-like product which can be used to provide heat.

For further information on burning waste, see our guidance for waste incinerators

You can also use anaerobic digestion to produce energy on a small scale. Anaerobic digestion uses bacteria to break down organic matter without oxygen in specially made digesters. It produces:

  • methane-rich gases that can be burned to generate electricity
  • a liquid and fibrous residue called digestate which can be used as a soil conditioner to fertilise land.

If you put waste into an anaerobic digestion plant the digestate you produce is also waste. You must apply waste management controls when you handle, transport or apply the digestate. For information about waste management controls, see our guidance on your waste responsibilities.

For further information on anaerobic digestion, see the biomass energy centre's website.

Biomass energy centre: Anaerobic digestion

Comply with the quality protocol on anaerobic digestate in Northern Ireland

Quality protocols set out end-of-waste criteria for producing a product from a specific waste type. If you comply with the criteria, the product you recover is not considered to be waste so you can use it without needing to follow waste management controls. For example, if it is not classed as a waste, you do not need to transport it using a waste carrier or with a waste transfer note.

The anaerobic digestate quality protocol describes how you can produce anaerobic digestate from biodegradable waste that is separated at the source from other types of waste. If you comply with this quality protocol you can use the anaerobic digestate you produce as a fertiliser, soil conditioner or material in land restoration.

WRAP: Anaerobic digestate quality protocol (Northern Ireland)

Incentives for energy generation

Green energy certificates

If you operate a small-scale energy generator you can save your business money by selling green energy certificates to energy suppliers or by using the certificates to gain exemptions from some environmental taxes, such as the climate change levy. The certificates include:

  • renewable obligation certificates (ROCs), eg for anaerobic digestion
  • levy exemption certificates
  • renewable energy guarantee of origin.

For further information, see the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) website.

GOV.UK: Renewable Obligation Certificates

Feed-in tariffs

You can sell any surplus electricity you generate from small-scale low-carbon electricity to the major electricity suppliers at a fixed rate to help offset the cost of installing plant. For further information about feed-in tariffs, see the DECC website.

DECC: Feed-in tariffs

Energy-from-waste grants

You may be able to apply for grants for your energy-from-waste plant. For example, you may be able to receive support for anaerobic digestion facilities in rural areas from the Scottish Rural Development Programme.

Scottish Government: Funding and grants for environmental projects

Further information on energy-from-waste

DECC: Energy from waste and anaerobic digestion

SEPA: Energy from waste

Your business may store waste oil on site, before it is collected by a waste contractor. Waste catering oils can be reprocessed into biofuels such as biodiesel.

What you must do

Authorisations to operate

If you use small waste oil burners (SWOBs) you require a PPC Part A permit. You must contact your environmental regulator before you burn any oil.

As a general guide, in Northern Ireland if you produce more than 5000 litres of biodiesel from waste catering oils, your business is likely to require a PPC permit.

In Scotland, if you carry out transesterification of waste catering oils up to 200 tonnes per year, non-commercially and not on an industrial scale, you do not require a PPC Part A permit. Contact SEPA to check whether you qualify for this exemption.

Contact your environmental regulator

In Northern Ireland if you operate a SWOB you require a Waste Incineration Directive (WID) compliant permit to operate in addition to your PPC A permit.

DOENI: Guidance on small waste oil burners and the waste incineration directive

In Scotland, if you operate a SWOB you require a WID compliant permit to operate in addition to your PPC Part A permit.

Scottish Government: How waste incineration installations will be regulated

If you store, handle, transport, treat, recover, reuse or recycle waste oil or waste catering oil you must hold a waste management licence or an exemption and meet your requirements under Duty of Care

Duty of care - your waste responsibilities

Waste catering oils are classified as animal by-products. You must comply with the Animal by-Products Regulations if you collect, store, handle treat or reprocess waste catering oils.

Animal by-products and food waste

You must dispose of all waste ash from SWOBs regularly, using sealed, dust tight plastic bags to contain the ash throughout collection, storage, transportation and disposal.

If you store, handle or treat waste catering oils or vegetable oils, you must comply with the Animal by-Products Regulations. You must store and treat waste catering oils separately from all other wastes. You must only store, treat or reprocess waste catering oils on waterproof, weatherproof surfaces which are housed under cover, and which animals, including birds, cannot access.

Pollution prevention and control permits

Hazardous / special waste

Waste oils are classified as hazardous/special waste. You must follow regulations for dealing with hazardous/special waste. You must not dispose of oil at a landfill that is not registered to receive hazardous/special waste.

Hazardous / special waste

Landfill

You must not dispose of waste oil into any skip or waste bin. This would contaminate all the waste within the skip, which you would then have to treat as hazardous/special waste. This could greatly increase your waste disposal costs.

Storage

You must not mix waste oil with any paints or solvents. You must not burn paint or solvents in your SWOB. Do not pour oil into a drain, or allow it to contaminate any land, ground or surface waters, (eg streams, rivers or burns) or air. Locate your storage facilities and SWOB as far from watercourses as possible.

You must prevent ethanol, methanol or sodium hydroxide used in the transesterification process for waste catering oils from causing any land, water or air pollution. Store all chemicals separately, as far from watercourses as possible, in secure, labelled, waterproof and leakproof drums.

You must ensure all waste glycerol and filters are reused, recycled or disposed of by a licensed waste management company.

If you store any kind of oil on your premises you may need to comply with the Oil Storage Regulations.

Oil storage

PPG 2 Above ground oil storage tanks (Adobe PDF - 276KB)

You must ensure that your SWOBs comply with clean air legislation.

Air pollution from furnaces, boilers and bonfires

You must ensure potential odours from flue gases or storage tank breathers from waste oil tanks do not create a statutory nuisance.

Noise, odour and other nuisances

If you use a vapourising burner, you must inspect your smoke emissions weekly.

Oil filters

You must ensure that you remove all waste oil from oil filters before you send the remaining metal for reprocessing. You must treat all waste oil filters and waste oil as hazardous/special waste.

Hazardous / special waste

You must not make any discharge to surface water or groundwater without consulting your environmental regulator. If you discharge without an authorisation, permit or consent from your environmental regulator you could be prosecuted and fined or imprisoned.

Preventing water pollution

You must not discharge trade effluent to a public sewer without trade effluent consent or a trade effluent agreement with your water and sewerage company or authority. If you discharge without a consent or agreement you could be prosecuted and fined or imprisoned.

Trade effluent - managing liquid wastes

Good practice

Ensure your burner is operating as efficiently as possible, by checking for leaks in seals where air might leak into the burner. Any sudden increases in the amount of oil you use may indicate leaks in seals or your storage tanks.

Follow the waste lubricating oil quality protocol

The waste lubricating oil (WLO) quality protocol means that WLO will no longer be classified as waste when used as processed fuel oil, providing you meet the criteria set out in the quality protocol. This means WLO can be used without waste management controls.

For example, if it is not classed as a waste, you do not need to transport it using a waste carrier or with a waste transfer note.

The quality protocol for WLO applies in Northern Ireland.

GOV.UK: Waste lubricating oil quality protocol

Further information

NIEA: Waste Oil leaflet (Adobe PDF - 104KB)

SEPA: Oil storage

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