Environmental Information Exchange

Waste legislation

Definitions of waste types

Duty of Care

Landfill Directive

Hazardous Waste

Packaging Regulations





Scrap Metal

Pretreatment of waste

Definitions of Waste Types

Below are some basic definitions and descriptions for the different categories of waste, as used in the Environmental Protection Act 1990 s75.

Basic Definition of Waste

'Waste' includes:

  1. any substance which constitutes a scrap material or an effluent or other unwanted surplus substance arising from the application of any process; and
  2. any substance or article which requires to be disposed of as being broken, worn out, contaminated or otherwise spoiled;
    but does not include a substance which is an explosive within the meaning of the [1875 c.17.] Explosives Act 1875.

Anything which is discarded or otherwise dealt with as if it were waste shall be presumed to be waste unless the contrary is proved.

Categories of Waste

'Directive Waste' is any substance or object which the producer or the person in possession of it discards or intends or is required to discard. This forms the basic definition of waste in the UK. Other categories of waste are subsets within Directive Waste.

'Controlled waste' means household, industrial and commercial waste or any such waste, in which:

  • 'Industrial Waste' originates from:
    1. factories;
    2. premises related to any public transport services;
    3. any premises used for supply to the public of gas, water or electricity or the provision of sewerage services; or
    4. any premises used for the provision to the public of postal or telecommunications services.

  • 'Commercial waste' means waste from premises used wholly or mainly for the purposes of a trade or business or the purposes of sport, recreation or entertainment excluding:
    1. household waste;
    2. industrial waste;
    3. waste from any mine or quarry and waste from premises used for agriculture (new laws on agricultural waste bring this waste under the Agency's control and classify hazardous agricultural wastes. See agriculture).

  • 'Household waste' includes waste from:
    1. domestic property or residential home;
    2. a caravan;
    3. premises forming part of a university or school or other educational establishment;
    4. premises forming part of a hospital or nursing home.

'Special waste'

  • This subcategory of controlled waste includes waste that has hazardous properties, and is defined in the Special Waste Regulations 1996. Such properties may be flammable, irritant, toxic, harmful, carcinogenic or corrosive.
  • For wastes with certain hazardous properties, such as toxic or irritant, there is a threshold quantity/concentration below which the waste is not considered as special waste.
  • Household waste is excluded from Special Waste.
  • Prescribed medicines are included in this category.
  • Special Waste includes the EC definition of Hazardous Waste and covers the substances listed here.
  • A list of chemical substances included in this category can be found in the "Approved Guide to Classification and Labelling" and the "Approved Supply List" provided by the Health and Safety Commission.

'Hazardous Waste' is the EC classification, as defined in the EC Hazardous Waste Directive and EC Hazardous Waste List. The UK Special Waste category covers the wastes defined as Hazardous by the EC.


Duty of Care


The Duty of Care regulations are part of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (Part II), and relate to the handling of business waste in a responsible manner, preventing fly tipping and pollution.

The obligations of businesses under the Duty of Care regulations are:

  • To prevent the escape of waste from their containers.

  • To ensure that there is a written description of the waste when it is transported to and arrives at the waste disposal site.

  • To ensure that transport of waste is carried out by an authorised, licensed waste carrier.

  • To ensure, within reason, that waste is dealt with in an appropriate manner at a licensed landfill or waste management facility.

These regulations apply to ALL industrial and commercial waste (with the exception of mining, quarrying, and radioactive wastes).

If your business is found to be negligent in these areas it may be fined and, in some cases, managers have been imprisoned.

The Process

When setting up a waste contract ensure that the company is licensed to transport waste and check their license papers. Beware of photocopies, as these can easily be imitations. Also check that the waste carrier transfers waste to a licensed waste disposal or treatment centre. As a licensed carrier, they should be doing this, but it is worth checking so that you can demonstrate that you have done all you can to ensure that your waste is dealt with correctly.

N.B. An individual is allowed to transport waste that THEY have generated, whether through business or otherwise.

Licensed waste contractors

Whenever starting a waste contract you should ensure that your contractor is licensed - visit the Environment Agency Permit Register to search for licensed contractors by area, type, name or permit number.

There are a number of types of permit and you should ensure that your contractor is licensed for the service they are providing you. Remember if your waste is not disposed of appropriately it is YOU that is responsible.

The Waste Transfer Note

Movement of waste should be accompanied by a Waste Transfer Note (WTN). This is a one page sheet, usually supplied by your waste transfer company, where details of the following are noted:

  • The type of waste
  • The method of Waste containment
  • The quantity of waste
  • Your company details (i.e. the company generating or handing over waste for transport)
  • The details of the waste transfer company (i.e. the waste collector)
When the waste is collected, the transfer company and you will sign the WTN and you will be given a copy. The collector will keep a copy and when transport of the waste is completed, they will fill in details of the landfill site. At this point, a copy is also given to the landfill site.

For regular collections of similar type of waste, one note may be used to cover a series of collections.


About Waste Transfer Notes

A waste transfer note (WTN) must accompany any transfer of waste between different holders. The WTN is designed to list the contents of your waste so the people who treat your waste can manage it safely and properly.

You must create a WTN for each load of waste that leaves your site. In practice most waste companies will allow you to use a 'season ticket', ie one transfer note to cover multiple transfers over a given period of time of not more than 12 months.

However, a season ticket can only be used if the parties involved in each transfer are the same (i.e. your are still the customer, and you are transferring waste to the same waste company) and the description of the waste remains the same.

Waste Descriptions

WTNs must contain sufficient information about the waste to allow safe handling by anyone coming into contact with it, and to either dispose of it or allow it to be recovered within the law. If you don't give enough information you may be prosecuted.

In England and Wales, the WTN must contain a description of both the quantity and types of each different waste being transferred on the WTN - both in words and by using the appropriate codes in the List of Wastes (England) Regulations 2005 and the List of Wastes (Wales) Regulations 2005.

Environment Agency: Using the List of Wastes to code waste (Adobe PDF - 1.39MB)

Your waste company should also be able to help you do this.

The WTN should also include details of how the waste is contained, ie whether it is loose or packaged. If the waste is packaged, then the WTN should include details of the type of container.

For information on WTNs in Scotland or Northern Ireland visit NetRegs .

Is it my responsibility?

Although your waste management contractors may be able to help you describe waste, you should not rely on them. You are in the best position to describe your waste accurately. It is not acceptable to use non-specific terms, eg 'general waste' or 'inert waste'.

Both you and the waste carrier must sign the WTN before waste leaves your site. If you transport waste yourself, you and the operator of the waste management site who you hand your waste over to must sign the WTN. If you use a waste broker, you must ensure that they are registered.

Keeping records

YOU MUST KEEP COPIES OF YOUR WTNs FOR 2 YEARS and these details must be made available to the Environment Agency on request. This is your main evidence that you have fulfilled the Duty of Care obligations.

Waste Transfer Notes for hazardous/special waste

Standard WTNs do not apply to hazardous/special waste. The transfer documentation for hazardous/special waste is called a 'consignment note'. If your waste has hazardous properties, you may need to treat it as such. In this case, you need to complete a consignment note to comply with your duty of care. The consignment note must contain similar information to a WTN. If you are unsure if a waste is hazardous check the European Waste Catalogue (EWC) European Waste Catalogue . Hazardous can only go to a waste treatment facility that is licensed to receive hazardous waste.


Who's Who in Waste Transfer?

The terminology describing the different stages in transport of waste can be confusing. Below is a list of common terms that are used to describe different roles in the process:

  • Waste Transferer - This is the company generating waste, and or any organisation that has waste that they wish to move to another site.
  • Waste Transferee - This is the company that will collect and move the waste to another site. They must be licensed if they are to transport other people's waste. This is the waste transfer company.
  • Place of Transfer or Collection Point - This is the final destination of the waste, which should be a licensed facility. This may be described as a Landfill SiteWaste Management Centre, or Waste Treatment Facility. The latter two types of site may provide segregation and recycling facilities.

You may need to register as a waste carrier or broker yourself, if you:

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

It does not matter whether you are a self-employed individual, a partnership, a company or another type of organisation. The law applies equally to all. It also doesn't matter if carrying or dealing in waste is not your main business or if you only do it occasionally. You still need to register.

If you carry out any waste operations yourself - collection, treatment, dismantling, reprocessing, recycling or disposal of any waste materials - you are likely to need an environmental permit .

Further Information

NetRegs - Environment Agency business pages on Duty of Care

Environment Protection Act 1990 - Duty of Care regulations can be found in Part II, sections 33 and 34.

EU Landfill Directive (99/31/EC)

The EU Landfill Directive (99/31/EC) came into force in 1999, and the UK had two years to incorporate the requirements into UK legislation. Certain aspects are already covered by existing legislation, such as the Waste Management Licensing Regulations and the Environmental Protection Act, but further laws are required to cover new areas. One such new piece of legislation is The Landfill (England and Wales) Regulations 2002 , which covers most of the targets outlined below, with the exception of biodegradable waste targets.

In addition to Landfill Tax costs, these new regulations are likely to make waste disposal more expensive, and should encourage waste minimisation and recycling initiatives.

The Landfill Directive targets are:

  • To reduce biodegradable waste going to landfill to 75% of 1995 figures by 2010 and to 35% by 2020. (This included paper, card, food, garden waste and organic textiles.)
  • In 2004 co-disposal of hazardous and non-hazardous waste was banned. Three separate landfill types are required for hazardous, non-hazardous and inert wastes. The UK uses the EU Hazardous Waste List (94/904/EC) as a definition of hazardous waste, rather than the UK Special Waste list.
  • The requirement to treat most wastes before they are landfilled. From 2004, all hazardous wastes going to landfill have needed to be treated first.
  • Disposal of whole tyres at landfill sites was banned in 2003, and by 2006 tyre granules were also not permitted in landfills.
  • To ban landfilling of liquid wastes, certain clinical waste and certain hazardous wastes. This is already in place in the UK.
  • Increase the level of control, monitoring and reporting at landfill sites. This is already in place in the UK.

The regulations aim to reduce the volume of waste and increase recycling rates. Composting and careful segregation of waste types for recycling will need to be encouraged to fulfil the targets.

Waste acceptable at landfills as inert waste includes

  • Waste glass based fibrous materials
  • Glass packaging
  • Concrete
  • Bricks
  • Tiles and ceramics
  • Glass
  • Soil and stones, excluding topsoil & peat

Further Information

Environment Agency - the regulatory body's web pages on the Landfill Directive.

Department of Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs - Defra's waste pages cover landfill regulations.

Lets Recycle.com - has up-to-date news and information on environmental legislation including the Landfill Directive


Hazardous waste


The Hazardous Waste Regulations first came into effect for industrial and commercial producers on 16th July 2005. They define types of waste that must be handled differently from conventional waste because they are potentially harmful to the environment and/or human health (i.e. explosive, flammable, corrosive, irritant, toxic, carcinogenic, infectious etc). Under the Hazardous Waste Regulations 2005, it is an offence to produce hazardous waste at premises, or remove hazardous waste from premises, unless those premises are either registered with the Environment Agency or are exempt. From 2005 to 2009, premises which produced less than 200kg of hazardous waste a year were exempt from the requirement to register.

The 2005 Hazardous Waste Regulations were amended on 6 April 2009. For businesses the main change was the increase in the threshold for registration, from 200kg per year to 500kg per year.

  • More details on registration can be found on the Environment Agency's registrations page .
  • More details about the 2009 amendments can be found here .

If your business produces hazardous waste you are legally obliged to make sure that it is stored, transported and disposed of properly.

Does my business produce hazardous waste?

Almost all businesses will produce some hazardous waste, for example:

  • office waste - fluorescent tubes, energy-saving light bulbs, sodium lamps, toner and ink jet cartridges from printers and photocopiers and old computer monitors.
  • garage waste - lead acid batteries, contaminated rags, used oil/fuel filters, aerosols, antifreeze and brake fluids and tyres

For some waste items, such as batteries or fluorescent tubes, it is fairly obvious that they contain potentially harmful substances. For others, it may not be clear. To help you, the Environment Agency provides detailed information and guidance .

What should my business do with its hazardous waste?

Each type of hazardous material requires different protocols for collection, storage, and transfer and it is important to ensure that the different materials are correctly labelled and packaged for storage or transport.


All hazardous waste must be stored securely to prevent pollution.

Hazardous waste may be stored on the site where it was produced for up to 12 months while waiting for collection, without an environmental permit or waste management licence. The maximum amount of hazardous waste you can store is:

  • 80 cubic metres of hazardous waste in secure containers
  • 50 cubic metres of hazardous waste in a secure place
  • 23,000 litres of liquid hazardous waste at any one time.

Liquid hazardous waste should be stored in a dedicated, bunded area with enough space for inspection and access. It is recommended that stores are inspected at least weekly for leaks, deteriorating containers and any other problems.


Infrastructure is in place to safely transport and process hazardous waste. Whenever hazardous waste is moved or transferred it must be

  • transported by a registered or exempt waste carrier
  • accompanied by a consignment note
  • transferred to a facility that holds a suitable environmental permit

If you produce hazardous waste you must keep copies of consignment notes for three years. Click here for further information on consignment notes

The Environment Agency Public Register allows you to identify carriers who are registered or have an exemption

There are many services offering collection, transfer and disposal or recycling of hazardous waste. Most will be able to offer you advice on storage and labelling of waste as well as transporting it, and can provide you with consignment notes. Click here for a list of companies offering general and specialised hazardous waste collection services.

Further Information

Envirowise offers a guide to Practical Ways to Manage and Minimise Hazardous Waste

Under the European Regulation on Classification, Labelling and Packaging of Substances and Mixtures, between 2009 and 2015 the labelling and packaging of dangerous substances is changing significantly. New 'Indications of Danger' symbols must be used from specific dates, but may also be used voluntarily from January 2009. Those who currently use 'category of danger' symbols as a means of recognising dangerous chemicals should ensure that they are familiar with the new symbols.

Further information on the current UK regulations regarding the packaging and supply of dangerous chemicals can be found on the CHIP pages of the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) website.

Information on the regulations regarding the manufacturing and importing of chemicals can be found on the HSE'sREACH web pages.


Packaging Waste Directive

The Packaging Waste Regulations came into force in 1997, putting a legal responsibility onto businesses for recycling packaging materials. They are the UK Government's approach to meeting EU recycling and recovery targets - the aim is to recover 50% of the 8 million tonnes of packaging waste produced in the UK.

Businesses are responsible only for the packaging waste passed on to the next company/person in the supply chain. For example, a distributor or wholesaler would be responsible for the cardboard boxes delivered to the retailer, a retailer would be responsible for the shrink wrapping and paper or carrier bag passed on to a consumer and so on. Packaging materials which are reused a certain number of times are exempt.

Packaging Waste Guidelines - relevance for SMEs

Your business is obligated under the Packaging Regulations only if:

  • you have an annual turnover of £2 million or more AND
  • you handle 50 tonnes or more of packaging waste per year

Although few SMEs are in this category, larger business (eg large retailers or manufacturers) need to find out details of packaging from their suppliers. The information that you may be asked for is the weight of packaging (including cardboard) associated with products that you supply. Businesses may require separate information for the packaging around individual items (primary packaging) and around batches of items (secondary packaging) and further layers if they are relevant.

What "Obligated Businesses" have to do?

Although few SMEs are obligated, those that are must follow these steps:

  1. Provide data on all packaging (weights/types etc) passed on to the next company/person in the supply chain,AND:
  2. EITHER register with the Environment Agency and undertake to fulfil their own recovery / recycling obligations,OR:
  3. Join a collective compliance scheme which will undertake to discharge its obligations

The Environment Agency is responsible for enforcing the Regulations and has published statutory guidance on how businesses will have to demonstrate compliance. For enquiries, telephone the Environment Agency on 0645 333111. Registration should be effected through the Environment Agency's dedicated Producer Responsibility Registration Unit - on 020 8305 4036.

Information and guidance can be found on the following web pages:

Once you have considered what recycling service you need, you can contact companies in the: list of cardboard recycling services in Oxfordshire

Oil - Pollution of Controlled Waters



All commercial & industrial waste oils are classified as Special Waste and therefore, handling, storage and processing is controlled under the Special Waste Regulations 1996. This is due to the additives used to produce specific qualities, such as rust inhibitors and detergents. In addition to this, oils often acquire contaminants during use. All these increase the hazardous nature of the waste. The handling of oil also falls under the Duty of Care regulations, and The Control of Pollution (Oil Storage) 2001.

Oil can spread very thinly over a large area, and is therefore highly damaging to the environment even in small amounts. As well as contaminating drinking water, oil can be very harmful to birds, mammals, fish and shellfish and smothers plants. Oil destroys the insulating ability of fur-bearing mammals, such as sea otters, and the water-repelling abilities of a bird's feathers and ingestion of oil by animals can poison them.


New legislation on Oil Storage came into force in 2001 (The Control of Pollution (Oil Storage) 2001 ) and applies if you have custody or control of an oil storage facility for more than 200 litres of oil above ground in England (including tanks, intermediate bulk containers, oil drums and mobile bowsers).

This refers to oil of any kind, including petrol, solvents, mineral oil, heating oil, lubricating oil and vegetable oil (but NOT waste oil). The legislation does not apply to oil stored for agricultural purposes.

The Environment Agency site has advice on storage of these oils, as well as descriptions of storage containers, legislation and seminars.

The most frequent consequence of oil spills or illegal disposal is pollution of controlled waters. The Environment Agency (EA) can bill a company for any costs incurred when cleaning up a pollution incident or spill, and the company may be fined or a prison sentence incurred.

The following advice can help prevent pollution incidents:

  1. Minimise the volume of waste oil to avoid the need for consent by the EA.
  2. Discharge waste oil to foul sewer (subject to effluent obligations) or dispose through a licensed waste management contractor.
  3. If consent is required, ensure that you comply with the conditions of consent from the EA. The level of discharge allowed is assessed on an individual basis.
  4. Do not wash substances into surface water drains or allow run-off to seep into the ground. Paint surface water drain entry points blue and foul sewers red, so that oils can be diverted from surface water points.
  5. When constructing external hard surface areas, such as car parks, check the regulations for spill and surface water run-off, so that oil spills can be contained.
  6. Divert clean roof water directly to surface water points without passing through oil/grit separators or oil interceptors.
  7. Train all staff on how to prevent oil spills and the procedures to prevent pollution of surface and ground waters if spills do occur.
  8. Provide shovels, sand, commercial spill kits and/or absorbent granules/sawdust in locations where spills or leaks of pollutants could occur and find their way into surface water drains. Ensure that spills are cleaned up immediately to prevent potential pollution.
  9. Store above ground containers in an impermeable bund on an impermeable base.

(Source: Environment Agency)


The Special Waste Regulations require that a consignment note accompanies the movement of waste oils. These are available to licensed or registered waste carriers. However, small quantities are exempt (up to 5 litres for disposal and 20 litres for recovery).

Producers of special waste are responsible for ensuring that waste is properly controlled and not illegally moved or illegally disposed of. In practice, this means that waste producers have a legal obligation to ensure that the waste they produce is transferred to an authorised person, i.e. a registered carrier or a licensed waste management company, and is treated or disposed of at a licensed facility. The licensed waste contractor collecting the oil normally deals with the requirements and can advise on the procedures.

Industrial Waste Oil

Oil source Collection method
Industrial Oil: Often a valuable material. Large quantities should be securely stored before collection by a registered waste carrier, who may pay for the oil and recycle it.
Vegetable Oil: Cooking oils can be collected by specialist contractors for reprocessing. It should not be disposed of to surface water drain and approval is required to dispose in foul sewer.
Garages & Workshops: Collection by registered waste carriers or use as fuel for space heating. Storage for fuel requires authorisation from your Local Authority.
Transformers: These use a specialist oil. Advice can be obtained from the EA.

Domestic Waste Oil

Oil source Collection method
Engine Oil: Take to an oil bank for recycling. Found at civic amenity sites, garages, large car retailers. See the list below or use the Oil Bank Helpline 0800 663366 to find your nearest centre.
Vegetable Oil: Some civic amenity sites have facilities for collection.

Future Changes

Recent and future legislative changes concerning oil include the following:

Revisions to the Special Waste Regulations The DETR proposes to scrap the existing special waste definition and replace it with "hazardous waste" as defined in the Hazardous Waste Directive and Hazardous Waste List. Regular producers of hazardous waste may in the future have to register themselves with the Environment Agency.

EU Landfill Directive 
The recent Landfill Directive will make it illegal to mix hazardous and non-hazardous waste at one landfill. There will be a complete ban on the disposal of certain wastes at landfills, including liquid wastes.

Derogation of Duty 
The UK has derogation (partial retraction of a law) on the duty that would otherwise be collected on "waste oils which are reused as fuel, either directly after recovery or following a recycling process for waste oils". This was to provide an incentive to ship operators to discharge oily wastes in port in preference to using the waste as fuel or discharging it at sea. The European Commission has warned the UK to drop this duty derogation for recovered fuel oil (RFO) because of a requirement in the waste oils Directive for Member States to give priority to oil recycling, rather than conversion to fuel.

Waste Oil Directive (87/101/EEC) 
This requires that member states give priority to the processing of waste oils by regeneration rather than conversion to fuel, wherever technical, economic and organisational constraints so allow. It states that RFO should be treated as a waste, and therefore councils will face higher bills from collectors of RFO.

Waste Incineration Directive 
From 2006 the Waste Incineration Directive will prevent many current RFO users from burning it and this may force a drop in demand for the product over the next few years.

Further Information

Environment Agency: Oil Care Campaign - information on handling oil, at home and work, to prevent environmental damage. Also have a directory of recycling points for waste oil in the UK. Telephone 0800 663366

The Pollution Prevention Guidelines on the Safe Storage and Disposal of Used Oils

Envirowise, the waste minimisation organisation, have Guides on oil:

  • CS092 Cost-effective treatment of waste oily water
  • GS227 Managing Oils to Save Money
  • GG227 Cost Effective Management of Lubricating and Hydraulic Oils
Telephone 0800 585794

Materials Recycling Handbook, produced by Materials Recycling Week. EMAP Maclaren Ltd, 
ISSN 0953-2982, price £85. Comes free with subscription to the magazine.

Oil Recycling Association (ORA) 
The Oil Recycling Association
62 Lower Street
Essex CM24 8LR



Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations 2006

These regulations came into force in 2007. They aim to minimise the impact of electrical and electronic goods on the environment, by increasing re-use and recycling and reducing the amount of WEEE going to landfill. They seek to achieve this by making producers and manufacturers responsible for financing the collection, treatment, and recovery of waste electrical equipment, and by obliging distributors to allow consumers to return their waste equipment free of charge.

The WEEE regulations put new responsibilities on Producers and Manufacturers of Electrical and Electronic Equipment (EEE), Distributors and Retailers of EEE, and End Users of EEE as described below.

For a full list of items covered by the WEEE Regulations, see Schedule 2 of the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations 2006

Responsibilities for Producers and Manufacturers

A producer is any manufacturer, importer or re-brander who puts electrical and electronic equipment on the market in the UK (if you are unsure whether you are a producer of EEE, please see the Guidance on Electrical and Electronic Equipment from the Environment Agency). Producers are required to comply with the WEEE regulations in the following ways:

  • Join a Producer Compliance Scheme . By 15 March 2007 all producers of WEEE were required to join one of the approved Producer Compliance Schemes which collect and recycle products on the producer's behalf in accordance with the WEEE Regulations' requirements. The Environment Agency provides a full list of approved compliance schemes . When registering with a compliance scheme, producers will pay a registration fee and will also receive a unique producer number.
  • Supply data on EEE production. When registering with a compliance scheme, producers are required to provide information on the amount of EEE they put on the market each year.
  • Pay for collection and treatment of WEEE. From 1 July 2007 producers are responsible for financing the collection, treatment, recovery and disposal of an equivalent amount of WEEE to the amount of EEE they have produced, and in an environmentally sound way. Producers or their schemes will have to show the environment agencies they have met their treatment and recycling obligations. This evidence will come from Approved Authorised Treatment Facilities (AATFs). The Environment Agency has published a nationwide list of AATFs .
  • Label products. Electrical products placed on the market from 1 April 2007 must be marked with a crossed out wheelie bin symbol (as shown) to separate the product from other waste streams, as well as being marked with a producer identification mark. If the product was placed on the market after 13 August 2005, a thick bar must be shown under the wheelie bin symbol (as shown). This bar has implications for the take-back systems available for these products.

Symbol showing manufacture
after 13 Aug 2005

Symbol showing manufacture
before 13 Aug 2005

Responsibilities for Distributors and Retailers

A distributor is anyone who sells electrical and electronic equipment to end users, whether as a retailer, wholesaler, through mail order or over the internet. Distributors are required to comply with the WEEE regulations in the following ways:

  • Check your supplier . Ensure that your supplier is registered with the Environment Agency and can provide you with their producer registration number.
  • Provide information to customers . You must make WEEE information readily available to your customers, explaining the environmental impacts of WEEE, why WEEE is separated from other waste, what the wheelie bin symbol means, and how they can properly dispose of WEEE free of charge. Information can be made available through leaflets, posters, information on websites, catalogues and brochures, for example.
  • Set up a take-back system . In order for customers to be able to properly dispose of their WEEE, you must set up a system which allows them to take their WEEE back free of charge in one of the following two ways:
    1. In-store take-back scheme - customers can return an old electrical appliance to you, free of charge, when buying a similar new appliance from you. In this system you must accept for disposal all the types of EEE that you sell, and then dispose of the WEEE either through a producer compliance scheme or through a WEEE compliant waste disposal company. You need to keep a record of the quantities and types of WEEE you receive for four years.
    2. Distributor take-back scheme - you pay to join this scheme which is currently operated by Valpak . Valpak co-ordinate a network of Designated Collection Facilities (DCFs) where consumers can take their WEEE for disposal free of charge. You must let your customers know how and where they can dispose of WEEE at a Designated Collection Facility . The network is largely based on the existing network of local authority civic amenity sites.

Note: exemptions for charities . If you are a retailer selling second-hand or reconditioned EEE, you are not required to provide a take-back scheme to customers.

Responsibilities for End Users

All businesses and organisations that use electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) must comply with the WEEE regulations in the following ways:

  • Separate handling of WEEE . All electrical and electronic waste must be stored, collected, treated, recycled and disposed of separately from other waste.
  • Your options and obligations for WEEE disposal depend on the date of manufacture of the product (all items of EEE are marked accordingly):

Symbol showing manufacture
after 13 Aug 2005

Symbol showing manufacture
before 13 Aug 2005


    1. If the item being disposed of was purchased before 13 August 2005 , and you are not replacing it with an equivalent new EEE product, you are responsible for its proper disposal, and you must arrange and pay for the transfer of the WEEE to an Approved Authorised Treatment Facility (AATF). The Environment Agency has published a nationwide list of AATFs .
    2. If the item being disposed of was purchased before 13 August 2005 , but you are replacing it with an equivalent new item of EEE, then suppliers of EEE are required to provide a take-back service free of charge for you to dispose of your WEEE. This is provided either through an in-store take-back scheme or through a distributor take-back scheme which makes a designated collection facility available to you.
    3. If the item being disposed of was purchased after 13 August 2005 , regardless of whether you are replacing it with a new equivalent item, your supplier of EEE must provide a take-back service free of charge for your WEEE. This will either be through an in-store take-back scheme, or through a designated collection facility. Your supplier will be able to tell you which scheme is available to you.
  • Keep records showing proper disposal of WEEE . You must keep records proving that you have disposed of your WEEE in a WEEE compliant way.



  • July 2006, under the EU Landfill Directive, whole or shredded tyres can no longer be sent to landfill for disposal.
  • However, bicycle, tractor, and large truck (HGV) tyres are excluded from the Directive


Scrap Metal

The Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013 has stopped scrap metal dealers from making cash payments for scrap - allowing metal sales to be traced with the aim of stopping theft of metal. Metal dealers making cash payments can be fined up to £5,000.


Pretreatment of waste

Full details of proposed Pretreatment of waste legislation can be found at the CIWM website.