Classify different types of waste
You must describe any waste your business produces before you send it for recycling and disposal.
Classifying your waste will help you:
- decide how to handle it
- complete the paperwork you must give waste contractors so they can manage your waste - this is part of your ‘duty of care’
You may need to meet additional requirements if you want to dispose of hazardous waste.
What to include in your description
Your description must include:
- the waste classification code, also referred to as LoW (List of Waste) or EWC (European Waste Catalogue) code - you can find some common classification codes in parts 2 to 6 of this guide
- whether it’s hazardous
- the type of premises or business where the waste was produced
- the name of the substance or substances
- the process that produced the waste
- a chemical and physical analysis
- any special problems, requirements or knowledge related to the waste
You must consider all the waste your business produces.
If you can’t find a code for your waste
Check the technical guidance on waste - it also includes information about waste classification, hazardous waste and waste sampling.
You must not use landfill waste acceptance criteria (WAC) results for waste classification purposes.
How to find out if your waste is hazardous
In most cases you can check the waste code or codes associated with your type of waste - it’ll have an asterisk if it’s hazardous.
Some waste may have both hazardous and non-hazardous entries, depending on whether it contains dangerous substances at or above certain levels.
In these cases, you must determine the waste’s composition and assess if it has hazardous properties or components before you can classify it - check the manufacturers’ product safety data sheets for this information.
Many products include orange and black danger symbols or red and white hazard pictograms to indicate they’re hazardous - check the technical guidance on waste for more information.
Some products (eg cosmetics and medicines) aren’t normally labelled with hazard symbols - check the product’s safety data sheet.
It’s illegal to mix a hazardous waste with either non-hazardous or another hazardous waste.
You will usually need more than one code if you store more than one type of non-hazardous waste in your container.
If you need more help
You can seek advice from a specialist waste contractor if you’re not sure whether it’s hazardous or not.
For more information, contact the Environment Agency.