Classifying the Different Types of Waste

The Environment Agency uses some technical guidance to classify different types of waste produced in the United Kingdom.

But, understanding how to describe business waste, and what to include in a description, will help you to manage and dispose of it appropriately and according to the law.

This section is a step by step guide on what you need to do. You will find technical information and guidance explaining List of Waste (LoW).

In simple terms, there are several specific and important reasons why you need to describe any waste that your business produces.

You MUST classify and describe commercial waste BEFORE sending it for disposal or recycling. Doing so:

  • Helps you decide and determine how to handle it appropriately.
  • Is part of the paperwork needed to dispose of business or commercial waste and your responsibilities to waste contractors who manage it.

Note: As a rule, the disposal of hazardous waste in United Kingdom means you will also need to meet additional requirements.

Business waste descriptions must include:

  • The List of Waste (also called the waste classification code) or the EWC code (European Waste Catalogue).
  • Whether it is hazardous.
  • The type of business or premises, and the type of process, that produced the waste.
  • The name of the substance (or substances).
  • A chemical and physical analysis.
  • Information on any special problems, knowledge, or other requirements that relate to the waste.

The Environment Agency produce waste classification technical guidance on how to assess and classify waste. It can help if you cannot find a code for your waste or you need information on classification, hazardous materials, or waste sampling.

Note: You MUST NOT use landfill waste acceptance criteria (WAC) results for waste classification purposes.

Determining Whether Your Waste is Hazardous

Checking the waste code (or codes associated with your type) will help you determine if yours is hazardous. If it is, the code will display an asterisk next to the number (e.g. contains asbestos 17-06-01*).

It is possible for certain types of waste to have hazardous and non-hazardous entries. It depends on whether the material contains dangerous substances at or above specified levels.

In cases such as these, you must determine its composition. You must also assess whether it contains hazardous properties or components before classifying it. Using the manufacturers’ product safety data sheets will help you confirm this information.

Note: Some products display orange and black danger symbols or red and white hazard pictograms. But, some products may not be labelled with these hazard symbols (e.g. cosmetics and medicines). Check the Technical Guidance WM3 or the product safety data sheet to be sure.

Mixing Waste Prohibitions

As a rule, storing more than one type of non-hazardous waste in your container will require more than one code.

Read the Environment Agency guide ‘Hazardous waste: segregation and mixing‘ for further details on how to mix and store hazardous waste.

Note: Mixing a hazardous waste with a non-hazardous OR another hazardous waste is illegal in United Kingdom.


Construction and Demolition

Common construction and demolition waste includes materials and substances like bricks, ceramics, and concrete. The tables list most waste codes for construction waste disposed of in United Kingdom.

Note: The section includes the waste code classification for common packaging waste and recyclables.

Electronic and Electrical Equipment

Common electronic waste materials and substances includes things like batteries, computers, light bulbs, and televisions. The tables list most waste codes for electrical waste disposed of in Britain.

Vehicle and Oily Wastes

Waste produced by vehicle maintenance and dismantling includes items like brake pads, fluids, oils, and sludges. The tables list most waste codes for vehicle and oily wastes disposed of in United Kingdom.

Healthcare and Related Wastes

Common healthcare and related wastes includes substances like medicines, plaster, laboratory chemicals, and sharps. The tables list most waste codes for healthcare waste disposed of in United Kingdom.

Seeking Expert Advice

A specialist waste contractor can help you determine if your waste is hazardous or not. You can also contact the Environment Agency for further information and guidance.

Environment Agency
Email: [email protected]
Telephone: 03708 506 506
Monday to Friday: 8am to 6pm
Find out about call charges.

Classification of Hazardous Waste in United Kingdom