DEFRA Guidance on legal definition of waste

Guidance on the legal definition of waste and its application
Guidance on the legal definition of waste and its application

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the Welsh government and the Department of the Environment Northern Ireland have published new guidance on the legal definition of waste. Waste has long been defined as something which a holder intends or is required to discard.

Whilst, the basic definition of waste derived from European legislation has been embedded in the United Kingdom’s waste legislation since 1980’s for three decades, there is a need to update this definition based on recent case law where the application of the definition of waste may not be straight forward.

The report is in three parts:

The first section covers the rationale and background, including EU end-of-waste criteria, developed under article 6 of the 2008 Waste Framework Directive, which define when materials stop being waste. Where these do not exist, there may be national end-of-waste protocols.

The second section provides a practical guide for businesses on day-to-day decisions over whether material is waste and if so, when it ceases to be waste.

The third section is intended for those with a specialist interest. The Court of Justice of the EU and national courts have interpreted the definition of waste on several occasions and a substantial body of case law now exists.

It is hoped that the guidance will make the principles of classifying waste more accessible for those who need to assess whether they are subject to waste management controls.

A copy of the guidance document can be found at

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