Register, renew or change waste exemptions

When your waste operation does not need a permit but you may need to register.

Applies to England

When you need a waste exemption

A waste exemption is a waste operation that is exempt from needing an environmental permit. Each exemption has limits and conditions that you must meet.

To find out if there is an exemption for your waste operation, and check that you meet the conditions, see the section ‘Choose the right exemptions’.

There are some exemptions that you do not need to register. For example, storing your own waste in most circumstances. See the section ‘Exemptions you do not need to register’.

When you register an exemption, details about your company and the exemption will be added to the Environment Agency’s public register of exempt waste sites.

You cannot register or carry out an exempt waste operation at an installation. An installation is a large scale facility which is potentially a higher risk of causing pollution. For example, a:

  • landfill site
  • large chicken farm
  • food factory
  • chemical plant
  • power station

If you cannot meet the limits and conditions of an exemption, you may need to apply for an environmental permit.

Waste exemptions are changing

Waste exemptions are changing and this will affect anyone who carries out a waste exemption activity. Defra’s consultation supplementary response document and its annexes explain the changes. This sets out which exemptions will be withdrawn or restricted. Changes to the exemptions are likely to start in 2025 but timescales have not been finalised.


It’s free to register waste exemptions and registration lasts for 3 years.

The exception is the T11 WEEE exemption, which covers repairing or refurbishing waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE). This costs £1,221 to register for 3 years.

Choose the right exemptions

Waste exemptions are listed in 4 categories. Read the guidance to:

  • decide which waste exemptions apply to your operations
  • check you can meet all the limits and conditions

Using waste (exemptions U1 to U16)

These cover operations such as using waste in construction, spreading waste materials on the land, and burning of waste as fuel.

Disposing of waste (exemptions D1 to D8)

These cover operations such as depositing sanitary waste, agricultural waste and spoil from dredging inland waters, and burning specific waste in an incinerator or in the open.

Treating waste (exemptions T1 to T33)

These cover operations such as preparing, recovering, sorting and treating certain waste materials, such as waste wood and plant matter.

Storing waste (exemptions S1 to S3)

These cover storing certain waste materials in secure containers or at secure sites and the storage of sludge.

Exemptions you do not need to register

If you store your own waste temporarily, or operate a waste collection point, you may not need to register an exemption. However, you must still meet certain limits and conditions. The following activities do not need to be registered.

Temporary storage of waste at the place of production

Storing waste at the site where it was produced. Also carrying out limited treatments like compacting and baling to help with storage or collection, before it is taken away.

Temporary storage of waste at a place controlled by the producer

Temporarily storing waste that you produced somewhere else, at a secure place that you control. For example, a builder who carries out work and takes the waste back to a skip at their main yard, which is collected when full.

Temporary storage of waste at a collection point

Temporarily storing waste at a collection point before recovering or disposing of the waste elsewhere. This must not be a paid-for service or done by a waste collection business. An example of a collection point is a pharmacy collecting out-of-date medicines returned by patients.

Register, renew or change your exemptions

When you have found the right exemption, and checked that your operation meets the limits and conditions, you need to register it with us.

You must renew your waste exemption registration every 3 years if you’re still using it.

Register, renew or change

Before you start

You will need to know:

  • the exemptions you want to register (for example, S3 the storage of sludge)
  • the name, address and contact details of the person, business or organisation carrying out the waste operation
  • the site address and postcode where the exemption will be used, or a grid reference (for example, ST 58132 72695)
  • for a limited company or limited liability partnership, the company registration number and registered address

Change your waste exemption

You can change an existing waste exemption registration to:

  • update your contact details (email address, contact address, name and phone number)
  • de-register any or all active exemptions

You need your WEX registration number and an email address that was used during registration to change your waste exemption.

Bulk registrations and linear networks

Bulk registrations

If you have more than 30 sites, register using the bulk and linear networks registration form.

Linear networks – road, river, canal or railway

Some exempt operations take place on a stretch of road, river, canal or railway, rather than a single place. To register U1, U12, D1 and D2 exemptions for a linear network, complete the linear network registration form.

Restrictions on registering multiple exemptions

An organisation cannot register more than one of the same exemption at the same place at the same time. Only the first registration will be valid.

Only one organisation can register a particular exemption at one site. Other organisations cannot register the same exemption at that site. Only the first registration will be valid.

You can renew your exemption at the end of the 3 year registration period. You cannot renew your exemption earlier, or de-register and re-register it to increase the amount of waste allowed.

Not complying with the exemption conditions

You must comply with exemption conditions to make sure that you do not cause harm to people or the environment. You must operate without:

  • risk to water, air, soil, plants or animals
  • causing a nuisance through noise and odours
  • adversely affecting the countryside or places of special interest

If you do not comply you will not be exempt and your activity will be illegal. The Environment Agency may de-register your exemption. They may also take enforcement action, especially if your activity harms people or the environment.

Contact the Environment Agency

General enquiries

National Customer Contact Centre
PO Box 544
S60 1BY


Telephone 03708 506 506

Telephone from outside the UK (Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm GMT) +44 (0) 114 282 5312

Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm.

Updates to this page

Published 1 February 2016
Last updated 10 May 2024 + show all updates
  1. Updated the 'Waste exemptions are changing' section - changes to exemptions are expected to start in 2025 but that timescales have not been finalised.

  2. Updated the page to include the option to change your waste exemption. Updated the section 'Not complying with the exemption conditions' to make it clear when an exempt activity is illegal.

  3. Added that you cannot carry out or register an exempt waste operation at an installation.

  4. COVID-19: our National Customer Contact Centre has reduced staff at the moment. Please only contact us if your query is urgent – please use email if you can. Our response may be delayed.

  5. Clarified the storing waste exemptions that do not need registering. Explained the restrictions on registering multiple exemptions.

  6. We have made the guidance clearer based on feedback we received.

  7. Minor changes to the page title and description to improve search results. This will help customers find relevant exemption guidance.

  8. Amended cost to register T11 WEEE exemption: £1,221.

  9. New online registration system launched, new version of spreadsheet for registering bulk exemptions at multiple sites.

  10. First published.

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