Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Waste acceptance at landfills

Waste acceptance at landfills

Before you can accept waste at your landfill site, you must confirm that the waste:

To confirm this, you need to see evidence of the waste's basic characterisation. This will be included as a waste description provided with the carrier's duty of care waste transfer or consignment note. You may also need to carry out compliance testing and on-site verification as defined in the annex to European Community (EC) Decision 2003/33/EC. This will help you to ensure that the waste has been brought to the right class of landfill site and enable you to manage it correctly.

Waste acceptance criteria

There are different WAC for inert, non-hazardous and hazardous waste.

Landfills for inert waste may only accept inert wastes that meet the relevant WAC. You may be able to accept some inert waste types without testing at landfills for inert waste - these are listed in section 2.1.1 of Decision 2003/33/EC. To be accepted without testing, the wastes must be of a single type from a single source. Listed wastes of different types may be accepted together providing they are from the same source.

If you suspect that a waste listed in section 2.1.1 is contaminated, or you want to accept waste that is not on the list, you must test the waste first to confirm that it is not hazardous. If it is not, you must confirm that the waste meets the leaching limit values for inert waste in section 2.1.2 of Decision 2003/33/EC.

Landfills for non-hazardous waste may accept:

  • municipal waste
  • other non-hazardous wastes - including inert wastes - which fulfil the relevant WAC
  • stable, non-reactive hazardous wastes in certain circumstances - these must not be deposited in cells with biodegradable non-hazardous waste.

In Scotland, from 01 January 2014, separately collected dry recyclables are banned from landfill.

Further information can be found on the Scottish Government website:

Scottish Government: Duty of Care – A Code of Practice

WAC apply to non-hazardous waste but there are no numerical limits set for this, except where it is to be taken to a cell for stable, non-reactive hazardous waste. The control over waste acceptance is through the conditions set out in your PPC permit.

Non-hazardous household waste and the same non-hazardous waste from other sources can be accepted without testing.

Landfills for hazardous waste can only accept waste classified as hazardous.

SEPA: Guidance on the definition of Special Waste

NIEA Technical Guidance WM3: Waste Classification-Guidance on the classification and assessment of waste

To be acceptable at landfill, it must have been treated and meet the relevant WAC.

The WAC largely consists of numerical limits for leachable substances and organic content, along with standards for physical stability. For organic content, the parameters are:

  • dissolved organic carbon
  • total organic carbon (TOC)
  • loss on ignition (LOI).

You can use either LOI or TOC content to show compliance. The testing methods for both organic and inorganic substances are set out in section 2.4 of Decision 2003/33/EC.

Scotland: What is the ban on biodegradable Municipal Waste?

From 31 December 2025, landfill operators in Scotland will be prohibited from accepting Biodegradable Municipal Waste (BMW) for disposal at the landfill.

BMW is household waste, and waste from commercial, industrial or institutional sites that is similar to household waste. The ban covers waste that includes materials such as:

  • paper and cardboard
  • kitchen and canteen waste
  • clothing
  • garden waste.

For a full description of BMW and the list of EWC codes that are affected by the ban read the SEPA guidance note.

SEPA: Biodegradable municipal waste landfill ban

Additional requirements on specific wastes

There are specific criteria for the following waste types and activities:

  • gypsum
  • asbestos
  • stable non-reactive hazardous waste that is disposed of in a landfill for non-hazardous waste
  • underground storage of wastes.

SEPA: Guidance on the disposal of gypsum in landfill

SEPA: Guidance on the disposal of asbestos in landfill

SEPA: Guidance on the disposal of stable non-reactive hazardous waste in landfill

NIEA: Guidance on the disposal of gypsum in landfill

NIEA: See Environment Agency guidance on Waste Acceptance at Landfills

You can find further information in Decision 2003/33/EC.

Further information

For further information on WAC:

Europa: EC Decision 2003/33/EC on WAC (PDF, 268K)

SEPA: Landfill guidance

NIEA: Landfill (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2004 Schedule 1

In this guideline

Pollution prevention and control permits for landfill sites

Wastes you cannot landfill

Waste acceptance at landfills

Designing and monitoring landfills

Landfill tax

Closed landfill sites

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