Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Storage, handling and transport of waste

More guidance on different topics of storage, handling and transport of waste.

Additional resources


To dispose of your business waste, look for a local reuse and recycling centre, or waste site: Find a reuse and recycling centre, or waste site, near you.

The following guidance is relevant to you if your business collects or receives hazardous waste or special waste: Receiving hazardous waste or receiving special waste.

If your business receives waste or sewage (wastewater) there are a number of obligations you need to comply with. See our guidance: Receiving waste or sewage.

This guidance is relevant to you if your business generates and manages healthcare or medical waste: Segregation of healthcare or medical waste

A Site Waste Management Plan (SWMP) sets out how resources will be managed and waste controlled at all stages during a construction project.

A SWMP covers:

  • Who will be responsible for resource management
  • What types of waste will be generated.
  • How the waste will be managed – will it be reduced, reused or recycled?
  • Which contractors will be used to ensure the waste is correctly recycled or disposed of responsibly and legally.
  • How the quantity of waste generated by the project will be measured

SWMPs help to manage and reduce the amount of waste produced by construction projects, which means less waste goes to landfill. Other environmental benefits include less damage to the local environment, less fly-tipping, lower energy use and greater use of recycled materials.

Managing your materials more efficiently immediately cuts costs. Better storage and handling reduces waste and makes it easier for materials to be recovered. Reusing materials on site will cut your disposal costs. 

If you are in Northern Ireland or Scotland, you do not need to have a site waste management plan (SWMP) for your construction project. However, following the procedure could help you to reduce the amount of waste you produce and will help you manage your waste more effectively. SWMPs are being promoted as an example of best practice in the construction industry.

They may be required for BREEAM assessments or by the local planning authority, and may be considered an environmentally responsible initiative by the main contractor or by the client.

SWMP guide and waste data form

Information and tools to help develop a site waste management plan are available;

In Scotland on the Resource Efficient Scotland website:

Resource Efficient Scotland: Preventing waste in construction

In Northern Ireland on the NI Business info website:

NIBusinessinfo: Introduction to site waste management plans

Guidance is also provided from WRAP:

WRAP: Achieving good practice waste minimisation and management. Each project should have one SWMP.

A SWMP is a live document. It must be updated through the course of the project.

Because it is produced at the very beginning of a project, the designer can consider ways that waste can be reduced and site-gained materials can be reused or recycled as part of the project. Identifying waste materials at an early stage that can not be reused on that project will make it easier to find other alternative uses for them.

Who is responsible for the SWMP?

SWMPs affect anyone who is:

  • working on any construction project and wants to follow industry good practice
  • planning a project for which your client or planning authority requires a SWMP
  • a supplier to the construction industry.

If you are the client, you are responsible for:

  • producing the initial SWMP before construction work begins
  • appointing the principal contractor
  • passing the SWMP to the principal contractor.

If you are the principal contractor, you are responsible for:

  • obtaining relevant information from sub-contractors
  • keeping the SWMP on site during the project
  • ensuring that other contractors know where the SWMP is kept
  • allowing other contractors and the client access to the SWMP during the project
  • keeping the SWMP for two years after the completion of the project.

You should update the plan regularly to ensure that it accurately reflects the progress of the project.

What should the SWMP contain?

The level of detail that your SWMP should contain depends on the estimated build cost,

A basic SWMP may be suitable for smaller projects for example up to around £500,000. A basic SWMP should:

  • identify the licensed operators who remove the waste
  • record the types of waste removed
  • use the List of Wastes code
  • record all waste transfer notes and hazardous waste consignment notes
  • note where the waste is being taken
  • be monitored and updated as works progress

Within three months of the project being completed, the SWMP should be updated to include confirmation that it was regularly monitored and updated, and an explanation of any deviations from the plan.

An advanced SWMP may be suitable for all projects above £500,000 in value. The advanced SWMP is more comprehensive than the basic SWMP, and the principal contractor should make sure that they also:

  • know the identity and waste carrier registration number of the person moving the waste
  • keep a written description of the waste
  • check details of the permits or exemptions held by the sites that the waste is taken to
  • update the plan as often as necessary to ensure it reflects the progress of the project - this must be at least every six months
  • keep a record of the types and quantities of wastes that are reused, recycled, recovered or disposed both on and off the site

Within three months of the project being completed, the SWMP should be updated to include:

  • a comparison between the forecast and actual waste
  • an explanation of any differences between the forecasted and actual levels of waste produced
  • an estimate of the cost savings that were achieved through implementing the SWMP

All SWMPs should include a declaration signed by the client and the principal contractor. The principal contractor should keep the SWMP for two years after completion of the project.

You must still comply with the duty of care for waste. Because you will need to record all waste movements in one document, having a SWMP will help you to ensure you comply with the duty of care.

Duty of care - your waste responsibilities

Good practice

If you are working as a sub-contractor, check your contract for requirements on:

  • purchasing strategies or methods of work aimed at reducing waste
  • the on-site reuse or recycling of site-gained materials
  • the disposal of waste
  • what information you need to report to the principal contractor or client, and when.

Watch our short videos:

Good practice on a construction site

How to manage waste on a construction site

Further information





This guidance is relevant to your businesses if you store waste, wastewater or sewage at your site: storing waste, wastewater or sewage

This guidance is relevant if your business transports waste from a mine or quarry: transporting mine or quarry waste

This guidance is relevant to your business if you transport waste, wastewater or sewage: Transporting waste, wastewater or sewage

This guidance applies to all mines or quarries in the UK that are required to have a WMP: Waste management plans for mines or quarries

This guidance is relevant if you operate a landfill site: Waste & sewage landfill site operators

This guidance of relevant if your business stores or transports waste: storage & transport of waste

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