Waste – Transfer of Controlled Waste

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Key Legislation:

For more detail on the Legislation relevant to this page, please use the following links:

Supporting Legislation:
European Waste Catalogue:

Commission Decision 2000/532/EEC as amended by Commission Decision 2001/118/EC and 2001/119/EC (European Waste Catalogue and Hazardous Waste List)

The European Waste Catalogue provides a list of definitions and codes for classifying wastes. This system provides a more precise method of identify the type of waste. Copies of the catalogue can be found at the following links

Consolidated Version of European Waste Catalogue – EA Website

The term ‘special waste’ is obsolete in England and Wales from July 2005 when the Hazardous Waste (England and Wales) Regulations came into force introducing the hazardous waste regime and replacing the Special Waste Regulations. Guidance on types of waste can be found on the Defra website (PDF document). The Special Waste Regulations still apply in Scotland.

Industry uses a coding system for hazardous wastes and waste transfer notes, under the Duty of Care. However the list has more than 800 codes for all hazardous and non-hazardous waste and is difficult to use correctly. The EA therefore now uses LOW codes in permitting to specify wastes that facilities can accept under the terms of their waste management licences, PPC permits and in relation to exemptions. Guidance is available in Using the List of Wastes to Code Wastes.

New Regulations are eventually proposed which will see the List of Waste Regulations eventually replacing the European Waste Catalogue.

  • Register your waste exemptions (England). This guidance outlines the waste activities which are exempt from environmental permits, and the processes required to obtain these exemptions. This applies to England only.
  • Scotland’s Zero Waste Plan 2010 (PDF document)
  • Waste duty of care code of practice – Issued under section 34 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, this Code of Practice applies to you if you produce, carry, keep, dispose of, treat, import or have control of waste in England or Wales, requiring anyone dealing with waste to keep it safe, make sure it’s dealt with responsibly and only given to businesses authorised to take it.  If you’re authorised or registered in Scotland or Northern Ireland but you either store, transport or transfer waste in England or Wales, these activities will be covered under this code.
  • Waste Management The Duty of Care – A Code of Practice (PDF document)
  • The Environment Agency has guidance on Storing Waste: Waste Exemptions. This guidance lists which activities, relating to temporarily storing waste, do not require an environmental permit.
  • The Environment Agency published guidance on the requirements that need to be fulfilled prior to sending waste to landfill (available here).
  • Waste: Environmental Permits – The Environment Agency have published guidance on how to apply for standard rules permits and bespoke permits for using, treating, storing and disposing of waste (available here).
Consent Needed:

Consent is not required by the waste producer but Duty of Care (See Performance Standards tab) makes it the waste producer’s responsibility to ensure that waste is only transferred to an appropriately licensed carrier who should have a Waste Carrier Registration. If in any doubt, contact the EA or SEPA (as appropriate).

Transfer of Controlled Waste requires a Transfer Note (see below) to be completed. This requirement includes waste landed from offshore that is then being transported onwards.

Waste Carrier Registration:

Waste carriers (onshore) must have an appropriate Waste Carrier Registration. Vessels carrying waste from offshore facilities to shore do not need to be registered (see “Authorised Transport Purposes” below).

It is the responsibility of the waste producer to ensure that the waste carrier is licensed. The Code of Practice on the Duty of Care suggests that every vehicle used by a waste carrier should carry a numbered copy of the registration certificate which will facilitate checking of registration details.

Application in writing using a form provided by SEPA or EA. Applications take 2 months to process.

Note: Carriage of waste within a site does not require registration.

Authorised Transport Purposes:

You can transfer waste to someone for “authorised transport purposes” without them requiring to be registered. This includes:

  • The transfer of controlled waste between different places within the same premises
  • The transport of controlled waste into Great Britain from outside Great Britain
  • The transport by air or sea of controlled waste from a place in Great Britain to a place outside Great Britain.

In terms of shipping waste from offshore facilities, the vessel does not require to be registered. However the waste producer (or importer, e.g. supply vessel) should have completed a Transfer Note (see below), for this to be handed on to the Registered Waste Carrier once the waste reaches shore.

Transfer Notes:

All waste transfers (including from offshore) require completion of a Transfer Note (or Consignment Note if Special/Hazardous Waste – see Transfer of Hazardous and Special Waste).

Records should be kept detailing the quantity, nature, origin, and where relevant, destination, frequency of collection, mode of transport and treatment method of any waste disposed of or recovered. Transfer Notes must be generated by the waste producer (or importer if shipping from offshore).

A Transfer Note should be completed whenever waste is handed over to an authorised person and should be signed by all parties. The transfer note details from whom and to whom the waste has been transferred, the category of authorised person to whom the waste has been consigned, relevant licence numbers, time, place and date of transfer as well as information on the quantity of waste, how it is packed and a description of the waste.

The transfer note, to be completed and signed by both persons involved in the transfer, must include:

  • What the waste is and how much there is.
  • What sort of containers it is in.
  • The time and date of transfer.
  • Where the transfer took place.
  • The names and addresses of both persons involved in the transfer.
  • Whether the person transferring the waste is the importer or the producer of the waste.
  • Details of which category of authorised person each one is. If the waste is passed to someone for authorised transport purposes, you must say which of those purposes applies.
  • If either or both persons is a registered waste carrier, the certificate number and the name of the EA or SEPA office which issued it.
  • If either or both persons has a waste management licence, the licence number and the name of the EA or SEPA office which issued it.
  • The reasons for any exemption from the requirement to register or have a licence, and where appropriate the name and address of any broker involved in the transfer.

The written description must provide as much information as someone else might need to handle the waste safely. It must describe the waste by reference to the appropriate 6 digit code(s) in the European Waste Catalogue (EWC). The EWC provides a more precise method of identify the type of waste by listing waste types according to the process or industries from which they arise.

In the case of repeated transfers and where such transfers involve consignment of the same type of waste to the same authorised person, a transfer note need not be completed on every transfer. In such circumstances, a transfer note should be completed at least annually and systems should be in place to ensure that no authorised or accidental deviation from the original consignment details take place.

Consultation on Waste Management Licensing Regulations: There is currently a consultation process for the Waste Management Licensing Regulations and associated amendments including legislation relating to waste carriers. See consultation.


European Waste Catalogue:

The requirements of the European Waste Catalogue (EWC) came into force in January 2004. The codes must be used on all waste transfer documentation. The codes are divided into 20 different chapters, some chapters relate to the type of industry or practice which has generated the waste, others to the chemical family of the waste. There is no specific chapter related to the offshore industry, however both drilling activities and onshore terminals are covered.

The practical impacts of the requirements are:

  • Specific categorisation of each individual waste stream per consignment, with as much detail as possible on the accompanying documentation.
  • Amendment of all waste transfer documentation to allow for insertion of codes.
  • Briefings for materials personnel on application of the codes.
  • Close liaison with waste contractors to ensure common codes utilised.
Waste Definitions:

Most waste from commerce and industry are controlled wastes, including materials that are to be recycled (see Waste Classification). Controlled waste includes waste arising from domestic, industrial and commercial premises as well as Special/Hazardous Waste for which there are additional regulations.

Special/Hazardous Waste includes wastes that are difficult to treat and wastes that have hazardous properties. Special Wastes include oily waste (e.g. oily rags, cuttings, pigging wastes, well clean up fluids, etc.) and chemical wastes and other hazardous waste such as asbestos.

Radioactive waste may be Special/Hazardous Waste if it has characteristics as defined by the Special/Hazardous Waste Regulations (see Waste Classification).

SEPA has produced guidance to help determine if waste is hazardous/special. Technical Guidance document WM2 contains a consolidated version of the EWC and provides advice on the classification and assessment of this waste.

Transfer Notes: See the Consent Needed tab.

SEPA/EA will make inspections of facilities which collect/transport or recover/dispose of waste, or which arranges for the recovery/disposal of waste on behalf of others.

SEPA/EA may serve notice on a waste holder requesting copies of relevant documents (transfer notes) within seven days.

Relevant convictions Guidance on Relevant convictions for waste environmental permits
Reporting of Non-compliance:

If the operator believes that his waste is not being dealt with in accordance with the requirements of the law, he must firstly prevent further transfer of waste to the suspected party and secondly notify SEPA/EA.


Transporting waste without a valid Waste Carrier Registration makes the offender liable to a maximum fine of £5,000.

Failure to supply copies of transfer notes may result in a fine of up to £5,000 on summary conviction or an unlimited fine on conviction on indictment.

Renewal of Waste Carrier Licence: Registrations are valid for three years and apply throughout the UK.
Consultation on the transposition in England and Wales of Articles 14(5)-(8) of the energy efficiency Directive (2012/27/EU): This consultation seeks views from interested parties on proposals to amend the Environmental Permitting Regulations to include some parts of the Energy Efficiency Directive (England and Wales only), helping Defra to identify cost-effective ways to improve energy efficiency.

This consultation accessible from the Defra website and concluded on 21 March 2014.