Key Waste Legislation


14 February 2013


Transposing Legislation:  Key Changes

Liz Drew, our PSO for the Devolved Government has drawn up a comprehensive and clear table of the required changes and how they have been/are being transposed by England and Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.  Please click on the link below to access the information.



14 February 2013


Bullet Point



Adopted in 1999, the EU Landfill Directive 1999/31/EC was transposed into English law as the Landfill (England & Wales) Regulations 2002.  It requires a reduction in biodegradable waste sent to landfill.  Of the 1995 level, it sets 75% landfilling by 2010, 50% by 2013 and 35% by 2020.  These relate to Biodegradable MUNICIPAL waste, the scope of which currently includes all waste collected by or on behalf of a Local Authority.   

It also bans various materials from landfilling, including liquid waste, explosive and flammable waste. Hospital and clinical waste and tyres, whether whole or shredded.  It also introduced new categories of inert, non hazardous and hazardous landfill sites.

The implementation of the Landfill Directive's requirements for diversion of BMW required primary legislation and have been implemented through the Waste and Emissions Trading (WET) Act 2003 via:

•    The setting of a maximum amount of BMW to landfill from each country in the UK

•    The allocation on landfill allowances, which may be tradable, to waste disposal authorities

•    The preparation, in each country of the UK, of a strategy for reducing the amount of biodegradable waste going to landfills

•    Details of the landfill allowances scheme being established in subordinate legislation by the appropriate authority in each country of the UK

This Act introduced the Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme (LATS) that sets out restrictions for disposal by each local authority in England and Wales. The Act permits each waste disposal authority (WDA) to sell its yearly quota of landfill allowances to other WDAs, creates financial incentives for good performance and encourages WDAs to maximise alternatives to landfill. The permits are to be traded, the penalty for breaching the target without purchasing LATS from other authorities was set at £150 per tonne, and the Secretary of State sets each WDAs landfill

disposal allowance annually, to reflect nationally the downward trend of the EU Landfill Directive, which deals with bio-degradable municipal waste. The targets are 50% of 1995 levels by 2009, and 35% by 2016.

The LATS has recently been the subject of discussion during a DEFRA consultation on EU Waste Targets.  It may be subject to revision during the forthcoming years. 

The Waste Management (England and Wales) Regulations 2006 are better known as the Agricultural Waste Regulations as they apply to the disposal of agricultural waste. 

Agricultural waste was excluded from the UK’s waste management controls by section 75(7)(c) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. The European Court of Justice has concluded that this exclusion contravenes European legislation - the Waste Framework Directive and the Landfill Directive. The UK Government accepts that the exclusion contravenes the Directives and has given a commitment to the European Commission to apply the controls necessary under the Directives to agricultural waste. 

From 2006 these regulations covered spent pesticide containers, agricultural plastics such as silage wrap, bags and sheets, packaging waste, tyres, batteries, clinical waste, machinery and oil. This waste needs to be taken off-farm for disposal at licensed sites and can only be dealt with on-farm, either for recycling or for disposal with an exemption or licence from the Environment Agency. 


In Scotland, the Landfill (Scotland) Regulations 2003 implement most requirements of the Landfill Directive (99/31/EC). 

The Landfill (Scheme Year and Maximum Landfill Amount) Regulations 2004 and Landfill Allowance Regulations (Scotland) 2005 implement Section 4 of the WET Act 2003 making an allocation of allowances of biodegradable municipal waste (BMW) to landfill to local authorities for each scheme year.  Allowances may potentially be banked, borrowed or transferred subject to approval by the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA). The Landfill allowances Trading Scheme is currently suspended in Scotland.

The Animal By-Products (Scotland) Regulations 2003 lays down rules concerning animal-by products, including the collection, transport and disposal of former foodstuffs, and the approval of premises for the different types of treatment of animal by-products (including composting).

Northern Ireland

The Landfill Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2003 implement the Landfill Directive (99/31/EC) in Northern Ireland and set out a pollution control regime for landfills for this purpose. Part 2 and Schedule 1 of the regulations detail waste acceptance criteria

Landfills are also subject to the Pollution Prevention and Control Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2003 which implemented Council Directive 96/61/EC concerning Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control and the Waste Management Licensing Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2003.

The Landfill Allowances Scheme (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2004 (NILAS) were made under the Waste and Emissions Trading Act 2003 for the purpose of implementing Articles 5(1) and (2) of Council Directive 99/31/EC on the landfill of waste in Northern Ireland. They make provision on the allocation, borrowing and transfer of landfill allowances subject to approval by the monitoring body, the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) and the Department of the Environment NI. Trading of allowances is not permitted in Northern Ireland.

The Animal By-Products (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2003, and subsequent amendments,  lays down rules concerning animal-by products, including the collection, transport and disposal of former foodstuffs, and the approval of premises for the different types of treatment of animal by-products (including composting and biogas generation). 

The Waste Management Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006 amend Articles 2, 4, 5 and 31 of the Waste and Contaminated Land (Northern Ireland) Order 1997, the Controlled Waste (Registration of Carriers and Seizure of Vehicles) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1999,  and the Controlled Waste Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2002,  in order to implement (in part), the Waste Framework Directive (75/442 EEC) and the Landfill Directive (1999/31/EC).

Back to top of page
Bullet Point


England & Wales, Scotland

The ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION ACT 1990 implements the European Union Waste Framework Directive in England and Wales and Scotland. The Act was intended to strengthen pollution controls and support enforcement with heavier penalties. Before the Act there had been separate environmental regulation of air, water and land pollution and the Act brought in an integrated scheme that would seek the "best practicable environmental option". There was previously no uniform system of licensing or public right of access to information.
This Act requires waste to be disposed of without endangering human health; without processes or methods that could harm the environment; without risk to water, air, soil, plants or animals; without causing nuisance through soil or odour; without adversely affecting the countryside or places of special interest.  This Act also sets out the statutory duties of waste collection and disposal authorities to provide waste collection and disposal services.  Regulations made pursuant to this act (Controlled Waste Regulations 1992) set out in detail from what premises an authority has an obligation to collect waste and types of waste for which a change could be levied.  
Schedule 2 of the Controlled Waste Regulations have recently been reviewed and proposed amendments are currenlty the subject of consultation.  New revised Regulations which will see Waste Disposal Authorities given the power to charge many schedule 2 premises fo rthe disposal of waaste, are expected to be implemented April 2011.

Legislation was introduced in within the Environmental Protection Act 1990 that imposed a ‘duty of care’ on waste producers to ensure that their waste is kept safe and is properly disposed of. Allied to this was legislation that required persons who are carrying waste in the course of their business to be registered with the Environment Agency.

Since this date changes have been made to this legislation, mainly to tighten up loopholes. For example the duty of care now applies to householders as well as businesses. The Government has recently consulted on changes to legislation that would require any business that carries its own waste to be registered with the Environment Agency. Currently the majority of businesses that carry waste that they have produced themselves are exempt from registration.


The Waste (Scotland) Regulations 2005 made several miscellaneous changes to waste management legislation by amending the Environmental Protection Act 1990, the Controlled Waste (Registration of carriers and seizure of vehicles) Regulations 1991, the Controlled Waste Regulations 1992, the Waste Management Licensing Regulations 1994, and the Groundwater Regulations 1998 with regard to:

•    Indiscriminate disposal of controlled waste from domestic properties
•    Duty of Care relating to domestic properties
•    Categorisation of mining, quarry and agricultural waste
•    Registration of Carriers of Controlled Waste
•    Waste Management Licensing

Back to top of page


Bullet Point


England & Wales

The Finance Act 1996 contains the primary law on the tax and provides for secondary legislation, which generally deals with the more detailed implementation of the tax. An important aspect of this secondary legislation is the Landfill Tax Regulations 1996, which cover details of registration procedures, credits, accounting and the environmental trusts provisions. The regulations also specify situations in which the water content can be ignored in calculating the weight for tax purposes.

The object was to de-incentivise landfill as a waste disposal solution by charging a tax for each tonne of waste so disposed-of. This tax affects all materials collected by local authorities and sent to landfill and subsequent Chancellor’s Budgets have increased this tax and in 2007 proposals were made to introduce the landfill tax escalator.  This meant increases of £8 per tonne each year on active wastes.

From April 2010, the landfill tax on active wastes was £48 per tonne.  The landfill tax escalator is set to continue to £80 by 2014, the aim of which is to provide certainty for investment purposes

Back to top of page
Bullet Point



The Act requires local authorities in England to collect separately at least two separate recyclable fractions of household waste by 2010. Guidance document published in April 2005.

Northern Ireland

Does not apply in Northern Ireland.


Does not apply in Scotland.


The Act enables the National Assembly for Wales to produce Regulations to adopt its provisions.

Back to top of page