Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland



Re-using, repairing and remanufacturing help to get maximum value from waste materials and products. Recycling retains less of the value. However, recycling plays an important role in the circular economy.

Traditional recycling produces items that are of a lower value and quality than the original item or material, when it may be known as ‘downcycling’.  A typical example is plastic, which when recycled is turned into a lower grade plastic.

There is now a growing trend to ‘upcycle’, which means changing an unwanted or discarded item into something with a higher value and quality than the original item e.g. upcycling shoe boxes into storage containers; turning a step ladder into a shelf; or painting a piece of furniture.

How recycling can benefit your business

  • prevents the waste of potentially useful materials
  • reduce our need for conventional waste disposal (landfill and incineration).

What you must do

You must comply with your Duty of Care for waste:

You must comply with special requirements for recycling certain wastes, such as:

  • batteries that contain harmful chemicals and metals - these are classified as hazardous waste
  • electrical and electronic equipment
  • fridges and air-conditioning equipment containing F-gases or ozone-depleting substances
  • end-of-life vehicles (ELVs) - you must send ELVs for dismantling and depollution, and recycle any component parts
  • packaging - you must comply with certain requirements if you produce packaged products, or place packaging or packaged goods on the market.

Recycling good practice

  • buy products that can be recycled. Only 7.5 per cent of all office waste, including paper, is recycled but 70 per cent could potentially be recycled.
  • separate waste that can be recycled from other waste and avoid contamination. A high quality of recyclate is required to enable more materials to be returned to the same use. See NetRegs page about your Duty of Care with respect to separate collection of waste:
  • New duties for businesses in Northern Ireland
  • New duties for businesses in Scotland
  • check the cost of recycling. It could be much less than sending your waste for energy recovery or disposal. Find out if your local authority provides recycling collections at low or no cost.
  • if you deliver waste services see the guidance: SEPA: Encourage your customers to recycle
  • sell high-quality recyclable materials, for example construction materials. There are an increasing number of uses for recycled materials.
  • check price information and quality specifications for a wide range of products. These can include compost, glass, metals, paper and board, plastics, textiles and wood: letsrecycle.com

Further information

Attend an ’upcycling’ workshop: Upcycled World

Recycle for Scotland: Find your local recycling facilities

Resource Efficient Scotland: Find recycling services in your area

NI Direct: Recycling and reusing

In this Guideline

What is the circular economy?

Using fewer resources

Managing your waste for the Circular Economy

Designing your products, and your business model to support the Circular Economy


Repairing goods



Protect and regenerate natural systems


Environmental News Blog

NetRegs on NetRegs on youTube

View our latest videos & subscribe to our channel.

NetRegs Update Newsletter

Free monthly email newsletter with environmental updates for Northern Ireland and Scotland

Sign up for free today!


NIEA - Apply online

SEPA - Application forms