Waste – Transfer of Hazardous and Special 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The term ‘special waste’ is obsolete in England and Wales from July 2005 when the Hazardous Waste (England and Wales) Regulations came into force introducing the hazardous waste regime and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. There is 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.

Consent Needed:

All Special/Hazardous Waste is subject to the same Duty of Care requirements which apply to Controlled Waste. Consent is not required by the waste producer, but it is the waste producers responsibility to ensure that waste is only transferred to an appropriately licensed carrier who should have a Waste Carrier Registration, Waste Management Licence or Exemption. If in any doubt, contact the EA or SEPA (as appropriate).

Vessels carrying waste from offshore facilities to shore do not need to be registered (see Authorised Transport Purposes). However, under the Merchant Shipping (Dangerous Goods and Marine Pollutants) Regulations 1997, the ship master must ensure that all dangerous goods are handled and stored in a safe manner and marked and labelled appropriately in line with the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code.

Transfer of Special/Hazardous Waste onshore requires a Consignment Note to be completed. This requirement includes waste landed from offshore that is then being onward transported.

Note: For Special/Hazardous Wastes, completion of Consignment Notes discharges the requirements of the Duty of Care. Therefore there is no need to also complete Transfer Notes.

Application and Completion of Consignment Note:

Producers of Special Waste must apply to SEPA/EA for a Consignment Note, which has a special code entered on it. An application fee of £15 is payable per consignment. The fee must be paid within two months of the request for a Consignment Note. This note must be completed before the transfer of any Special/Hazardous Waste. The Consignment Note must accompany every movement of Special/Hazardous Waste.

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 – see Legislation tab). The EWC provides a more precise method of identifying the type of waste by listing waste types according to the process or industries from which they arise.

Note: If transferring Special/Hazardous Waste from offshore, the waste containers must also be labelled to ensure the requirements of the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code are met.

The Consignment Note is a five part self-carbonising form, which is usually colour coded. The following gives an overview of the procedure for the consignment note. Further detail regarding completion of the form is in Chapter 4 of The Special Waste Regulations 1996. Information regarding repetitive movements of waste of the same description can also be found on the SEPA website.

For guidance on Consignment Note Completion in England and Wales see the EA ‘Standard Procedure‘. Guidance on Consignment Note Completion in Scotland is provided by SEPA in ‘A Guide to Consigning Special Waste‘.

The Consignor (person who causes the waste to be removed from the place where it is being held):

  • Must obtain a code from EA/SEPA and enter it onto the Consignment Note or obtain a code pre-printed onto an EA/SEPA consignment note.
  • Complete Parts A and B of the consignment note and sign A5.
  • Pre-notification copy (white) must be sent or delivered to the EA/SEPA office for the area in which the Consignees office is located at least 3 working days and no more than one month prior to the movement of the consignment. A fax copy is acceptable to satisfy the pre-notification notice period. If fax is used, the pre-notification copy can be sent before or within one day of removal of the waste.

Note: For wastes generated offshore (e.g. platform), Sections A, B and D of the Consignment Note can be completed by the waste producer or his shore agent, provided Part D is amended to include an additional certificate signed by the ship’s master (see SWEN 010).

The Carrier (person who collects and transports waste onshore to another place):

  • On collection of the Special Waste shall complete Part C.

The Consignor (Waste Producer or Vessel Master for backloaded waste from offshore):

  • Shall complete the relevant sections of Part D.
  • Shall retain the Consignor’s copy (green) and retain this for at least 3 years.
  • Shall give the remaining Consignment Note to the Carrier.

The Carrier:

  • Shall ensure that the Consignment Note travels with the waste.
  • Shall give the Consignment Note to the Consignee (Licensed Waste Disposal Contractor) on delivery of the waste.

The Consignee (the person to whom the waste is being transported) on receiving the waste shall:

  • Complete Part E on the three copies of the Consignment Note given to him
  • Retain one copy (pink) (for the lifetime of the licensed site) and give one copy (gold) to the carrier for his records.
  • Shall supply final copy (yellow) to local SEPA/EA office.
Who to Apply To:

SEPA/EA for Consignment Note number.

When to Apply:

Before transfer of Special Waste.

Consultation on Waste Management Licensing Regulations: A recent consultation process for the Waste Management Licensing Regulations and associated amendments has been carried out 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 are 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 Waste for which there are additional regulations.

Special/Hazardous Waste includes waste that are difficult to treat and wastes that have hazardous properties. Special/Hazardous 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.

Duty of Care:

There are four basic requirements of the Duty of Care when applied to Controlled Waste including Special/Hazardous Waste:

  • The holder of waste must take all reasonable steps to prevent its escape or loss. Therefore, waste is not to be kept in a corroded or worn skip; the skip is to be secure so as to prevent accidental spillage or leakage; waste is to be kept in such a way as to prevent it falling while in storage or while it is being transported; the waste is protected from scavenging wildlife.
  • The waste can only be transferred to someone authorised to carry or dispose of the waste. It is the transferors responsibility to ensure that the person to whom the waste is being transferred is appropriately authorised (see Consent).
  • The Duty of Care requires you to keep records of the wastes you produce and transfer (see Records to be kept).
  • All waste producers should remain alert for evidence of others not observing the Duty of Care. SEPA/EA should be alerted if you suspect that any Duty of Care or licence conditions have been breached.
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 Consignment Note (see the Consent Needed tab), for this to be handed on to the Registered Waste Carrier once the waste reaches shore.

EC Regulation 850/2004 on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs): These Regulations entered into force in May 2004 and the UK is required to record releases of substances including dioxins, PCBs, furans and PAHs and draw up plans to reduce emissions.Operators are to undertake shipments of waste (containing POPs substances) to shore in line with any EA/SEPA Guidance.
Consignment Notes:

See the Consent Needed tab. Copies must be kept for a minimum of 3 years.


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 (Consignment 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.


Failure to comply with the requirements of the Special Waste Regulations 1996 or the Hazardous Waste Regulations is an offence liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale. A fine may be up to £10,000 if the offence can be tried on summary conviction or indictment. If the offence is specified only to be trialled under summary compliant then the maximum fine is £5,000. On indictment, a fine, or imprisonment for up to 2 years, or both may be levied.

Falsification of records or making of false statements is also an offence.

Rejected loads:

If the Consignee facility rejects the waste (or part of it), the Consignee should indicate on Part E of the consignment note that he does not accept the consignment (or part of it) and the reasoning behind his decision. Copies of the completed note should be distributed by the consignee as described in Consignment Notes (see the Consent Needed tab).

The Consignor should instruct the Carrier what to do with the rejected waste. If the waste is to be returned to the premises where it was produced/collected, no new consignment note is required. However, the carrier’s copy of the original note indicating that the waste was rejected must accompany the waste on the return journey. If only part of the original consignment was rejected, the consignment note (and any carrier’s schedule as appropriate) must be annotated in Section B to accurately reflect the load being returned.

If the waste is to be sent to alternative, suitably licensed facilities, a new consignment note is required. However, there is no need to provide at least 72 hours pre-notification for this movement. Parts A and B of the new consignment note should be completed to reflect the destination of the waste and the details of the consignment that was rejected. The new consignment note must have a record of the original consignment note code referenced. The Carrier shall complete part C of the new consignment note.

The Consignor shall complete Part D of the note, retain one copy (green) and give the remaining copies to the Carrier for transport with the waste. The Carrier, may where he has received written instruction from the Consignor to that effect, complete Part D on the Consignor’s behalf and forward a copy (green) of the consignment note, with Parts A to D completed, to the Consignor. The Consignment Note should then be carried and completed as described in Consignment Notes (see the Consent Needed tab).

Renewal of Waste Carrier Licence:

Registrations are valid for three years and apply throughout the UK.

Ecotoxicity Assessment:

DEFRA has been managing a consultation process seeking to revise Hazardous/Special Waste Technical Guidance to introduce a robust assessment of ecotoxicity when assessing wastes and to ensure that Ecotoxic wastes are correctly identified and appropriately managed.

Environmental Liability Directive 2004/35/EC:The Environmental Liability Directive was adopted in 2004 and was required to be implemented by 30 April 2007. The Directive enforces strict liability for prevention and remediation of environmental damage to ‘biodiversity’, water and land from specified activities and remediation of environmental damage for all other activities through fault or negligence.The Environmental Liability Directive is now implemented in England and Wales and Scotland (see Environmental Liability).