Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Animal by-products and food waste

Animal by-products are entire animal bodies, parts of animals, or products of animal origin that are not intended to be eaten by humans. Businesses that are likely to deal with animal by-products include food retailers and manufacturers, catering outlets, butchers, farmers, gamekeepers, animal feed suppliers and vets.

Animal by-products are tightly regulated to protect human and animal health and the environment. This includes rules for collecting, storing, transporting, handling, processing, using and disposing of animal by-products. You may also need to comply with controls on the marketing and export of animal by-products and products derived from them.

This guideline explains what animal by-products are and how they are categorised. It describes how to handle, store and transport animal by-products and how to dispose of animal by-products, food and catering waste.

Additional resources



What are animal by-products?

Animal by-products are entire animal bodies, parts of animals or products of animal origin that are not intended for human consumption.

Read more about  What are animal by-products?

Categories of animal by-products

Animal by-products are divided into three categories according to their potential risk to human and animal health. There are different rules for disposing of waste in each category.

Read about the categories of animal by-products

Disposing of animal by-products

Animal by-products are divided into three categories according to their potential risk to human and animal health. There are different rules for disposing of waste in each category.

Read about the rules for disposing of animal by-products

Animal carcass disposal

This guidance is relevant if you need to dispose of dead animals.

Read about the different requirements for disposing of farmed animal, wild animal and pet carcasses.

Disposing of food waste and catering waste

When food of animal origin is no longer intended for human consumption it becomes an animal by-product. This may be when produce is removed from sale because it has passed its sell by or use by date, or because of damage, soiling or contamination to the produce or its packaging.

Read about disposing of food waste of animal origin

Transporting animal by-products

Animal by-products must be collected and transported in leak-proof, closed containers or sealed new packaging.

You must keep each category of by-product separate and clearly labelled to avoid contamination.

Read more about transporting animal by-products

Handling and storage of animal by-products

If you store animal by-product waste for routine collection, you must keep it separated from other waste and store each category separately. See the page in this guideline: Animal by-product categories.

Animal by-product waste must be stored in clean, sealed, leak-proof containers. Label all containers with the category of the material as follows:

  • category 3 material - not for human consumption
  • category 2 material - not for animal consumption
  • category 1 material - for disposal only

You must not store animal by-products where they could contaminate other foodstuffs or be exposed to animals or wild birds.

Use authorised waste carriers

Check that you are using an individual or business authorised by:

  • the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) in Northern Ireland
  • Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) in Scotland

for the storage, processing, treatment or disposal of animal by-product waste.

DAERA: List of Approved Premises and Operators

Scottish Government: Animal by-products registered and approved premises

Make sure that you complete a commercial document, recording the transfer of animal by-product waste. A commercial document is different from a waste transfer note or hazardous waste consignment note.

DAERA: Animal by-products guidance (Northern Ireland)

Animal and Plant Health Agency: Transport documents and records (Scotland)

Record the date that the animal by-products were removed, a description of the material, and the name and address of the waste carrier and the receiver of the waste.

Keep a copy of all documents for at least two years. You may need to show them during an inspection.

Clean and disinfect containers after each waste collection.

Have an emergency plan, eg to avoid destroying large quantities of animal by-products because of a freezer breakdown or product recall.

You must not send to landfill any packaging that is significantly contaminated with animal by-product material, eg bloodstains. You must dispose of it as an animal by-product.

Food waste

In Northern Ireland, if your business produces more than 50kg of food waste per week, you are required to have separate collection of that waste. From the 1st April 2017 this requirement also applies to businesses producing more than 5kg and up to 50 kg of food waste per week. There is no requirement for food businesses which produce less than 5kg of food waste, to collect it separately. From the 1 April 2017 food waste must not be deposited in a lateral drain or public sewer. The legislation does not apply to householders.

NIEA: Duty of Care – A Code of Practice

Food Waste Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2015

DAERA: Guidance - the Food Waste Regulations

In Scotland you should discuss with your waste contractor the services that they will offer for the collection of food waste. If you process, prepare or sell food and produce more than 5kg of food waste a week, in an urban area, you will be required to separate that food waste from the rest of the waste you produce for separate collection. This applies to large producers (more than 50kg) from 1 January 2014 and small producers (more than 5kg) from 1 January 2016. This duty does not apply to businesses in rural areas or those producing less than 5 kg of food waste per week.

International catering waste is classed as a Category 1 Animal By-Product and therefore requires specialist management. See the page in this guideline: Disposing of Animal By-Products .

Scottish Government: Duty of Care  - A Code of Practice

Further information

Find your nearest waste site

Animal by-products and food waste environmental legislation

This page provides links to the full text of key pieces of environmental legislation relating to animal by-products and food waste.

Read the environmental legislation that applies to animal by-products in Northern Ireland and Scotland

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