T17 waste exemption: crushing waste fluorescent tubes

The T17 exemption allows you to treat waste fluorescent tubes and capture any mercury emissions before collection for recovery.

Applies to England

Type of activity you can carry out

This includes when you run a large office block with many fluorescent tubes used for lighting. Every few months you use a crusher specially designed to crush the tubes. You capture any mercury emissions to make it easier to collect and transport the materials for recovery elsewhere.

Types of activity you cannot carry out

You cannot:

  • bring in fluorescent tubes to your site to crush them
  • get someone else to crush the tubes for you
  • mix hazardous waste with other hazardous or non-hazardous waste

Type of waste you can treat

The waste codes are those listed in the List of Wastes (LoW) Regulations. You need to make sure your waste fits within the relevant waste code and description.

Waste code Type of waste
200121* Fluorescent tubes only

*hazardous waste

Amount of waste you can treat

You can crush up to 2 tonnes of waste in a calendar year.

The mercury concentration in any resultant emissions to air must not exceed the workplace exposure limit for mercury set out in the Health and Safety Executive’s guidance document EH40/2005 Workplace exposure limits (second edition). This is currently 20 microgrammes per cubic metre.


The equipment used to treat the waste must be designed for that purpose and must be able to meet the above mercury concentration emission threshold.

The crushing can only be carried out:

  • at the place where the tubes have become waste
  • by the producer of the waste using their own equipment

You must meet the requirements of paragraphs 1 and 2 of Annex VIII to the WEEE Directive. This includes:

  • providing impermeable surfaces and waterproof covering for areas where crushing is carried out
  • ensuring crushed materials are stored in secure containers under weatherproof covering
  • providing spillage collection facilities

You must use the guidance on best available treatment recovery and recycling techniques (BATRRT) when treating the waste.

Register a T17 exemption

You need to register this exemption with the Environment Agency if you meet the requirements.

If you want to treat fluorescent tubes in any other circumstances you will need to apply for an environmental permit.


Hazardous waste – see How to classify different types of waste.

Secure – a container, lagoon or other place is secure in relation to waste kept in it if:

  • all reasonable precautions are taken to make sure the waste cannot escape
  • members of the public cannot gain access to the waste

Weatherproof covering – may, in some circumstances, simply involve a lid or cover over a container, but, in others, a roofed shelter or building may be more appropriate.

Place of production – the place where the waste is originally produced.

Published 28 April 2014