Hazardous waste

The Government working together with industry aims to reduce the amount of hazardous waste generated in the UK and the hazardousness of such waste. Hazardous waste poses particular risks to health and the environment so it is especially important that they are managed properly. Hazardous waste currently forms around 2% of total waste arisings (Waste Strategy 2000).

What is Hazardous Waste?

Hazardous waste is essentially waste that contains hazardous properties that may render it harmful to human health or the Environment. The European Commission has issued a Directive on the controlled management of such waste (91/689/EEC) and hazardous waste is defined on the basis of a list, the European Waste Catalogue, drawn up under that Directive. To help determine if your waste is hazardous or not consult the Environment Agency's guidance document WM2.

Strategy for Hazardous Waste Management in England

The Strategy for Hazardous Waste Management in England (the Strategy) was published on 18 March 2010. It underpins the practical application of the revised EC Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC) (WFD) and in particular the requirements that apply to hazardous waste. It aims to clarify how the requirements of the revised WFD should be implemented, particularly the revised waste hierarchy with respect to the management of hazardous waste. The Strategy is also intended to facilitate the provision of infrastructure for the management of hazardous waste.

The Strategy comprises:

Six high level principles for the management of hazardous waste.

• A set of outline decision trees to assist waste producers and waste managers to make the right decisions about the management of their waste and the investment in infrastructure to help move hazardous waste management up the waste hierarchy.

• A timeline of action on issues relating to the introduction and implementation of the strategy.

• A list of guidance relating to the treatment of hazardous waste.

• An updated summary of facility need.

The Strategy is aimed at the environmentally sound management of hazardous waste. The fulfilment of this objective is of interest to everyone - members of the public, local authorities, trade associations, businesses, non-governmental organisations and consumer groups

Hazardous Waste Directive

Until 15 July 2005, the Hazardous Waste Directive was transposed in England by the Special Waste Regulations 1996 (as amended). From 16 July the Directive is transposed by the Hazardous waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2005 and the List of Waste (England) Regulations.

While the Special Waste regime was in force in the UK, the European Commission revised its list of hazardous waste and incorporated it into the European Waste Catalogue. The revised list includes a number of waste streams not previously considered to be hazardous, including televisions, computer monitors, fluorescent lighting and end-of-life vehicles. (see Council Decision 2000/532/EC and amended by Decisions 2001/118/EC, 2001/119/EC and 2001/573/EC - Copies of this and all European Community legislation can be found on the Eur-Lex web site.)

This list needed to be transposed into national legislation and we also took the opportunity to make other changes. Defra consulted on new Hazardous Waste Regulations for England in July 2004, and the new Regulations based on the consultation responses come into force on 16 July 2005. The new regime includes a requirement for most producers of hazardous waste to notify their premises to the Environment Agency. The facility to notify premises has been available from April 2005

The Hazardous Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2005 (S.I. 2005 No 894), “the Regulations”, came into force on 16 July 2005. The Regulations implemented the requirements of the EC Hazardous Waste Directive (91/689/EEC).

Following a recent public consultation exercise, some changes to the Regulations will come into effect on 6 April 2009 The changes will increase the qualifying limitation from 200kg to 500kg in any 12-month period and will also serve to clarify certain other provisions of the 2005 Regulations. The changes are effected by the Hazardous Waste (England and Wales)(Amendment) Regulations 2009 (S.I. 2009 No 507). All other requirements of the Regulations will continue to apply to all movements of hazardous waste, including those from premises that are exempt from the notification requirement.

Defra published interim guidance on premises notification in January 2005. Guidance on notification, including the on-line notification facility, and more general guidance on the new regime can be found on the Environment Agency's hazardous waste pages.

Hazardous Waste Exemptions review

The Government and the National Assembly for Wales is reviewing a number of exemptions to the waste management licensing system. The exemptions under review are principally those which cover hazardous waste, although where these exemptions include non-hazardous wastes they are also addressed. Our consultation paper, including draft legislation and a partial regulatory impact assessment, seeks comments on our proposed changes.

Hazardous Waste forum & programme

  • The Hazardous Waste Forum was established in December 2002 to bring together key stakeholders to advise on the way forward on the management of hazardous waste.
  • The Landfill Hazardous Waste Implementation Programme was set up by Defra and the Environment Agency to drive the changes required to successfully implement new legislation.

International shipments of waste

Hazardous waste maybe exported to other OECD countries for recovery, subject to certain controls.

Further information

See also

Page last modified: 18 March 2010
Page published: 5 February 2003