Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Import and export of waste

Import and export of waste

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:

  • in Northern Ireland, with the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA)
  • in Scotland, with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).

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.

Additional resources


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  • Brewing and Distilling Technical Drop-in Day: Waste, Water, Energy, Brewing and Distilling is booming due to high demand for quality Scottish beers and spirits. All this growth is also leading to a boom in food waste, energy and water use.

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NIEA - Apply online

SEPA - Application forms