Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Agricultural Waste

Agricultural Waste

Your waste responsibilities

Your business will produce waste and you have a responsibility to ensure that you produce, store, transport and dispose of it without harming the environment. This is called your duty of care.

In the past, agricultural waste has not been covered by general waste controls. However, the same regulations that apply to commercial and industrial waste now also apply to agricultural waste.

Manure and slurry are not considered waste when used as a fertiliser on farms. There is, however, a range of environmental issues that you should be aware of.

Landspreading livestock slurries, silage effluent and solid manures


What you must do

Comply with your duty of care

The duty of care applies to controlled waste. Controlled waste includes agricultural waste, as well as commercial waste, industrial waste, hazardous/special waste, construction and demolition waste, and household waste.

The duty of care places obligations on you as a waste producer, and also on carriers and any person within the chain of persons handling waste, to consider the manner in which they deal with the material.

Make sure that your waste does not escape your control and that it does not cause pollution or harm while you hold it.

Demonstrate that you have taken into account the Waste Hierarchy when making decisions on the management of your waste

You must make sure that you only pass waste to someone who is authorised to take it. If you do not check, and the person you have passed your waste to disposes of it illegally, you could be held responsible, prosecuted and fined.

You must keep records of all transfers of your waste.

The duty of care has no time limit. You are specifically responsible for your waste from when you produce it until you have transferred it to an authorised person. However, if you think that your waste is not being managed correctly you must take action to check and prevent this.

For more details see our guidance on Duty of Care

The NIEA has produced guidance aimed at farmers which deals specifically with agricultural waste.

NIEA: Duty of Care for Farmers - responsibilities for agricultural waste

Use an authorised waste carrier

You must only pass your waste to, or have it collected by, an authorised person.

Anyone who collects and transports your waste must:

  • be a registered carrier of controlled waste, or
  • be exempt from registration as a carrier - this includes your local council's waste collection services.

Contact your local council

In Scotland, carriers, brokers and dealers who deal only with agricultural waste do not have to be registered as waste carriers, brokers or dealers, but have to be registered with SEPA as professional collectors or transporters of waste.

Check that your carrier is registered

You must check and keep proof that anyone that you pass your waste to is authorised to take it. If you do not check and keep proof of this you could be held responsible if your waste is disposed of illegally, for example by fly-tipping.

You can check your environmental regulator's database of registered carriers, brokers and professional collectors of waste.

DAERA: Public register of waste carriers

SEPA: Registered Carriers, Brokers and Professional Collectors and Transporters

If you are in any doubt about someone's authority to carry your waste you must contact your environmental regulator.

Contact your environmental regulator

For more information see our guidance Duty of Care – Who can deal with your waste?


Carrying your own agricultural waste

In Northern Ireland, if you normally and regularly carry your own agricultural waste, you are required to complete a one-off registration with the Northern Ireland Environment Agency. If you are not certain whether you should be registered NIEA can guide you.

In Scotland, if you carry your own agricultural waste, you need to register as a professional collector or transporter of waste, with SEPA

Make sure that you only pass your waste to someone who is authorised to take it. Anyone who recycles, treats, stores, reprocesses or disposes of your waste must have:

  • a waste management licence or pollution prevention and control (PPC) permit
  • a registered exemption from permitting for your type of waste and what they do with it.

Use our waste directory to find licensed recycling and waste disposal sites in your area.

For more information see our guidance Duty of Care – Who can deal with your waste?


Use waste transfer notes

You must complete a waste transfer note (WTN) for every load of waste you pass to others. This will include a detailed description of the waste.

You may be able to use a 'season ticket' if you have regular collections of waste of the same type and from the same place, by a waste carrier. This is one transfer note covering a series of transfers over a year, for example weekly collections of waste from shops or commercial premises or multiple lorry trips to remove a large heap of waste. If you use a season ticket you must keep a log of the individual waste transfers.

A WTN shows carriers and site operators who handle your waste what they are handling. WTNs also ensure that there is a clear audit trail for the waste from when it is produced until it is disposed of.

A WTN must be completed and signed by both the person sending the waste and the person collecting it.

Waste holders and transporters must carry the WTN alongside the waste it relates to and must produce the note if stopped by an authorised officer. If the movement is covered by an annual note which is held at a different location, this note will have to be made available on request.

You must keep copies of all your WTNs for at least two years and be able to produce them on demand to your environmental regulator or local council, or you could be fined.

There is no standard WTN. Many waste carriers produce their own versions.

WTNs can now be in electronic format, as long as they are legible and include an authenticated electronic signature.

For more information on WTNs, see our guidance Duty of care - Complete waste transfer notes.


Pre-treat waste for landfill

You must make sure that your waste is treated before it goes to a landfill site. This applies to most types of waste. You can either treat your waste yourself or make sure that a later holder of the waste will treat it before they send it to a landfill site.

For more information see our Landfill guidance.


Handle liquid wastes safely

If you handle liquid wastes, you must ensure:

  • they are stored securely on your site while they await disposal or recovery
  • they cannot escape into drains, watercourses or surrounding ground
  • any accidental spills are properly and effectively contained.

Follow hazardous or special waste controls

Waste that is potentially harmful to humans and the environment is known as hazardous waste in Northern Ireland and special waste in Scotland.

Most businesses produce some hazardous or special waste. Examples include some types of batteries, fluorescent tubes, computer monitors and certain paints.

You must:

  • always keep hazardous or special waste separate from other waste
  • store hazardous or special waste in sealed, labelled containers
  • use designated, secure, labelled, waterproof containment areas to store hazardous or special waste
  • bund containment areas for hazardous or special waste by building a secondary barrier around the main containment area to hold hazardous or special waste if the containers (eg drums) leak
  • use a consignment note when hazardous waste is moved and keep copies of consignment notes for three years.

See our Hazardous/Special Waste guidance.

Some types of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) are classed as hazardous/special waste.


Check your waste is disposed of correctly

If you transport your own waste, you must make sure that the site you take your waste to is authorised to accept it.

Anyone who recycles, treats, stores, reprocesses or disposes of your waste must have:

  • a waste management licence or pollution prevention and control (PPC) permit
  • a registered exemption from permitting for your type of waste and what they do with it.

Use our waste directory to find licensed recycling and waste disposal sites in your area.

See our guidance Duty of Care - Check your waste is disposed of correctly


Permit, licence, registrations you require

If you collect, treat, dismantle, reprocess, recycle or dispose of any waste materials yourself, you must have a waste management licence, or register an exemption.

Waste management licences

You can take most waste produced by your own business directly to an authorised waste management site or recycling facility.

If you normally and regularly transport your own agricultural waste you must register:

  • in Scotland, you need to register with SEPA as a professional collector or transporter of waste.
  • in Northern Ireland you need to register with the NIEA

You must register with your environmental regulator as a waste carrier, broker or dealer if you:

  • transport your own construction or demolition waste
  • handle, transport, recycle or dispose of any waste on behalf of another business
  • buy or sell waste.

Further information on your waste responsibilities

DAERA: Waste

SEPA: Agricultural waste

NIEA: Duty of Care for Farmers - responsibilities for agricultural waste

More information on recycling and disposal options for your waste is available from online waste recycling directories.

DAERA: WML public register

Resource Efficient Scotland: Recycling and Re-use Directory

SEE ALSO: Duty of care, Hazardous/special waste, Reduce, reuse, recycle your business waste, Agriculture guidance

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