What you must do

Check if you need a permit or licence

If your business operates a landfill,

  • in Northern Ireland you must have a pollution prevention and control (PPC) permit or waste management licence; the type of authorisation you need will depend on the type and amount of waste your landfill accepts
  • in Scotland you must have a PPC permit

You must comply with the conditions in your authorisation or you can be fined or sent to prison.

Pollution prevention and control permits

Your landfill will be classified according to the type of waste it accepts. There are three categories of landfill sites:

  • hazardous waste
  • non-hazardous waste
  • inert waste.

Your permit will state the classification of your landfill. You must only accept the type of waste that your site is authorised to deal with. In Scotland hazardous waste is called special waste.

When you receive waste at your landfill, you must check the European Waste Catalogue (EWC) code given to the waste in the waste transfer note or consignment note. The EWC code classifies waste into hazardous waste, mirror hazardous waste or non-hazardous waste. You can only accept wastes with EWC codes that match the codes listed in your permit.

Consolidated version of the European Waste Catalogue (Adobe PDF - 162KB)

If you operate a landfill site, you must also be suitably qualified.

Landfill site operators

Check which qualifications you need

Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, if you operate a licensed waste management facility you must demonstrate that you are a 'fit and proper person' by holding a WAMITAB Certificate of Technical Competence (CoTC).

NIEA: Guidance on technical competence for operators of authorised waste facilities (Northern Ireland) (Adobe PDF - 109KB)


In Scotland, if you operate a licensed waste management facility you must demonstrate that you are a 'fit and proper person', either by holding a WAMITAB Certificate of Technical Competence (CoTC) or by holding the relevant vocational certificates or equivalent certification from another approved scheme.

SEPA: Guidance on technically competent management at licensed waste management facilities (Adobe PDF)

Do not accept prohibited waste

You cannot accept certain waste at landfill sites, including:

  • used whole and shredded tyres
  • liquid wastes, including wastewater (dewatered sludge is allowed if permitted at your site)
  • hospital and other clinical infectious wastes from medical or veterinary establishments
  • chemical substances from research and development or teaching activities where the substances are new or not identified and their effects on humans and the environment are not known
  • waste that may be explosive, corrosive, oxidising or flammable under landfill conditions
  • waste automotive or industrial batteries.

Separately collected dry recyclables are banned from landfill.

There are special requirements for accepting certain waste, such as animal by-products, animal carcasses and food waste. For further information, see our animal by-products guidance.

Make sure the waste has been characterised and tested

You must make sure that the waste producer has characterised the waste before you accept it at your site. This involves assessing the waste's:

solubility chemical composition
leachability physical form
biodegradability hazardous properties
combustibility homogeneity/heterogeneity

Once you have accepted waste at your site you will need to:

  • check that the waste is described correctly in the transfer documents
  • test some of the waste to make sure that it has been characterised correctly by the waste producer
  • make sure that waste streams that you receive regularly from the same producer continue to comply with specific reference criteria
  • check that the waste's properties have not changed or been contaminated during storage or transportation before it is sent to landfill.

Make sure the waste meets the waste acceptance criteria

You can only accept waste at your landfill if it meets the waste acceptance criteria required for the class of your landfill listed in your permit.

You must obtain proof that the waste you accept has been appropriately pre-treated, where necessary, before you accept it at your landfill site. For example, you will need proof that sewage sludge has been dewatered.

You should contact your environmental regulator for advice if you identify waste that:

  • cannot meet the waste acceptance criteria, and
  • has no genuine alternative for recovery or disposal other than landfill.

Contact your environmental regulator

If you transfer waste to another landfill site you must make sure that it is authorised to accept your type of waste. You can do this by checking the site's PPC permit.

You must also comply with the Duty of Care.

Duty of Care -  your waste responsibilities.

  • If you operate an inert or non-hazardous landfill, you must ensure that waste has been treated, if required, before you accept it. Ensure that your customers are aware of this in advance. Treatment of waste could involve segregation of recyclables, or could mean physical, thermal, chemical or biological processes (including sorting) that change the characteristics of the waste in order to reduce its volume or hazardous nature, facilitate its handling or enhance recovery.
  • Talk to waste producers or contractors about the nature of the waste they are delivering.
  • Ask about any arrangements producers or contractors have made for treating waste.
  • Carry out visual inspections of any load that arrives at your site, and after waste has been deposited.
  • Check any paperwork with the load. You should ask for a written declaration from the producer or holder of the waste, to prove that it has been treated.
  • Carry out a check (audit) of the waste producer's arrangements for treatment.

In Scotland waste must be pre-treated as a requirement of your PPC permit.

For hazardous landfills, the requirement for pre-treatment came into force in 2005.

Depending on your customers, you may want to make some changes to your waste management services. For example, do your customers already treat their own waste? If not, you may want to consider extending your services to include treatment. You could introduce sorting or screening to separate wastes for recycling or composting.

If you introduce new waste services you must contact your environmental regulator well in advance to find out whether your pollution prevention and control (PPC) permit needs to be changed.

Contact your environmental regulator

Tell your customers if you will be providing any new services, or tell them about other sites where they could treat their waste. Use our Waste Directory to find licensed recycling and waste disposal sites in your area.

Further information on landfill

Northern Ireland

NIEA: Landfill (Northern Ireland)


SEPA: Landfill (Scotland)

Return to the menu of the Storage, handling and transport of waste environmental topic