Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Waste storage

Waste storage

All waste has the potential to pollute the environment if you do not handle or store it properly.

You may store your own waste while you wait for it to be removed from your site.

To store other people's waste, you may need a waste management licence or a pollution prevention and control (PPC) permit.

Waste management licences

PPC permits

If your waste is going to be reused or recycled, you can register an exemption to store various amounts of non-hazardous waste securely, depending on the waste type.

Waste exemptions

You should give instructions to all employees and contractors working at your premises on how to handle and dispose of each type of waste you produce. Check regularly that your employees and contractors are following these instructions. 

Use suitable waste containers

You must store all waste materials safely and securely in suitable, well maintained containers.

Label containers clearly with their contents so that the correct waste is stored in them and future holders will know what they contain. If you reuse containers, make sure that you remove any old labels.

Ensure that waste cannot blow away. If you store waste in skips or other similar containers, ensure that they are covered or netted. Store waste under cover, if exposure to the elements will prevent it from being reused, or cause contaminated run-off. 

Separate waste

You must separate hazardous/special waste from other types of waste and keep different types of hazardous/special waste separately. You should separate materials that are incompatible, such as chemicals that may react together if they leak.

There are new legal requirements for businesses:

  • you must apply the waste hierarchy to all waste (reduce, re-use, recycle, recover, disposal)
  • you must segregate dry recyclables for separate collection: metal, plastic, glass, paper and card (including cardboard)
  • in Scotland, except in rural areas, if you are a food business generating more than 5kg of food waste per week, you must segregate your food waste from other waste, for separate collection.
  • in Northern Ireland if you are a food business generating more than 5 kg of food waste per week, you must make sure you have separate collection of that waste. There is a prohibition on the landfilling of separately collected food waste.
  • a ban on the mixing of separated recyclable materials and a ban on sending separated recyclable materials to landfill or incineration.

SEPA and the NIEA have produced guidance on the new regulations.

SEPA: The zero waste regulations

NIEA: Regulatory Position Statement – Separate Collection of Dry Recyclables

DAERA: Regulatory position statement – Food Waste Guidance

It is good practice to separate all different recyclable waste types. This can increase the value of your waste to the waste contractor and save you money in disposal costs.

The NIEA has produced a short guide to the duty of care responsibilities including advice and information for waste producers, carriers and those accepting, storing and treating waste.

NIEA: Duty of Care - a short guide 

Contain liquid wastes

You must prevent liquid wastes and pollutants from escaping into drains, watercourses, waterways or surrounding ground. Store wastes on impermeable surfaces within a secondary containment system. Ideally this should be a bund which is large enough to hold the leaked contents of the storage containers.

Preventing water pollution

Storing chemicals 

Protect waste from vandalism

Ensure that your storage facilities are secure against vandalism, theft and accidental damage. You are responsible for any pollution caused by materials that come from your site.


Further information

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

Find your nearest waste site

Contact your environmental regulator

In this Guideline

What is waste?

What is the duty of care for waste?

New waste duties for businesses in Northern Ireland

New waste duties for businesses in Scotland

Who can deal with your waste

Waste Transfer Notes and how to complete them

European Waste Catalogue (EWC) - waste codes

Waste storage

Controls on specific types of waste

Landfill waste

Carrying out waste management activities yourself

Duty of Care for Waste Legislation

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