Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Quality recycling at MRFs

Quality recycling at MRFsQuality recycling at MRFs

What you must do

Waste recovery and the REACH Regulations

If your waste recovery activities involve the manufacture, import or use any chemical substances, preparations or articles you must comply with the REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) Regulation.

REACH aims to protect human health and the environment through the registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemical substances.

If you make a product from waste by recovering a chemical substance in quantities of one tonne per year or more, the REACH Regulations may apply to you.

If your business deals with waste without producing any chemical substances from it, then the REACH regulations are unlikely to apply to you.

The UK REACH Competent Authority is hosted by the Health and safety Executive (HSE).

UK REACH Competent Authority

REACH may apply to chemical substances that you recover as they will no longer be classed as waste. If a substance ceases to be a waste and REACH applies you must register or pre-register the substance.


If you recover chemical substances from waste in quantities of one tonne or more per calendar year and the substance is not exempt, you must register it with the ECHA.

ECHA: Guidance on registration (Adobe PDF - 1.36MB)

If your recycled substance is not a waste and you are unsure if it is covered by REACH, contact the UK REACH competent authority helpdesk.


HSE: Contact us

If you are not sure whether your substance is a waste contact your environmental regulator.

Contact your environmental regulator

SEPA: Is it waste? (Adobe PDF - 51KB)


Pre-registration has now closed. You can only make a late pre-registration if you are recovering one tonne or more of a phase-in substance in a calendar year for the first time. You must be able to provide evidence of this.

If this applies to you, you must pre-register:

  • no more than six months after you begin to recover the substance and
  • at least one year before the ECHA registration deadline for the quantity and type of your chemical.

If you pre-registered any phase-in substances before 1 December 2008 you will still have to complete a full registration with the ECHA. The deadline for your registration will depend on the quantities of chemicals you handle and in some cases whether they have certain hazardous properties. You will have submitted a proposed registration deadline as a part of your pre-registration.

The ECHA has produced a questions and answers document covering pre-registration.

ECHA: REACH pre-registration – Questions and answers (Adobe PDF - 1.45MB)

Substance Information Exchange Fora (SIEFs)

Under REACH, Substance Information Exchange Fora (SIEFs) are created so businesses that have pre-registered the same chemical can share information. You will be able to use SIEFs to make joint registrations. You are automatically added to a SIEF when you pre-register.

ECHA: Information on chemicals

Further information

UK Reach competent authority: REACH & substances recovered from waste (Adobe PDF - 100KB)

REACH regulations

For further information about REACH visit the UK REACH competent authority's website, or contact them by email:


UK REACH Competent Authority

Ensuring quality recycling at materials recovery facilities (MRFs)

New regulations set out requirements for sampling and reporting procedures for

  • materials entering a MRF
  • segregated materials leaving the MRF

This will improve the understanding of materials in the supply chain, and help identify levels and sources of contamination.

This will benefit MRF operators by helping to ensure that high quality recyclates enter their facilities, and will help to drive innovation and good practice throughout the supply chain.

What you must do

In Scotland:

If you operate a materials recovery facility (MRF) and:

  • you hold either a Waste Management Licence (WML) or a Pollution Prevention and Control (PPC) permit
  • and your MRF receives, or is likely to receive more than 1000 tonnes of mixed dry recyclates in any year

then you must comply with the requirements of the Code of Practice on Sampling and Reporting at Materials Recovery Facilities.

Scotland: Code of Practice on Sampling and Reporting at Materials Recovery Facilities

In Northern Ireland:

It is proposed that the Quality Action Plan and Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) Code of Practice will be incorporated through a schedule to the planned Permitting Regulations. A consultation on revised permitting regulations was scheduled to take place in 2017, however this was postponed following the outcome of the EU referendum in June 2016. A revised date for this consultation has not been scheduled.

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