What is Waste?

The legal definition of waste in the UK is derived from the EU Waste Framework Directive. In basic terms a waste is anything which you decide to, or are required to, throw away. Even if the substance or article is given to someone else to be reused or recycled, it is still legally considered to be waste if it is no longer required by the person who produced it.

The Waste Management Licensing Regulations 1994 contain a list of substances and objects that are legally considered to be waste. In addition, the European Waste Catalogue contains a hierarchical list of waste descriptions, each of which is assigned a numeric code

There are certain exceptions to this definition of waste. It does not, for example, include gaseous emissions, radioactive waste, certain natural, non-dangerous agricultural wastes, waste waters and decommissioned explosives. This does not mean that these items are not waste, but simply that they fall under different legal definitions. This Guide focuses on waste as defined as Directive Waste, rather than the exceptions to the definition, although radioactive and agricultural wastes are considered.