Chemical manufacturing waste and hazardous waste

Chemical manufacturing waste responsibilities

You are responsible for ensuring that controlled waste you produce, store, treat, transport or dispose of does not harm the environment. This is called your duty of care.

Controlled waste is commercial, industrial and household waste, and may include hazardous waste, agricultural, construction and demolition waste.

Types of chemical manufacturing waste

Many substances discarded from chemical manufacturing are classed as waste, including:

  • chemical process residues or spent raw materials, eg catalysts and sludges
  • residues or unusable solutions of solvents or other chemicals
  • sub-quality chemical products, eg adhesives, cleaning preparations, detergents, inks and paints
  • contaminated chemical containers
  • spent or spilled oil, lubricants and fuel
  • contaminated absorbent materials used on spills
  • used packaging, eg metal and plastic straps, and polypropylene

Check if you need a permit, licence or exemption

You must have a pollution prevention and control (PPC) permit, waste management licence or registered waste exemption from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) to use, store, collect, treat, recover, dismantle, recycle, burn or otherwise dispose of waste.

In some cases you may not need to register an exemption but you will still need to comply with the terms of an exemption. For example, you can usually store your own waste where it was produced temporarily, while you wait for it to be removed from your site.

See chemical manufacturing environmental regulations.

Apply the waste management hierarchy

You must apply the waste management hierarchy when you transfer waste. This means you must consider reusing or recycling your waste before deciding to dispose of it.

If you have a waste management licence for an operation which generates waste, you will have to apply the waste management hierarchy. This will be a condition of new waste management licences, and will be added to existing licences when they are reviewed.

Use authorised businesses to deal with your waste

The duty of care applies to controlled waste.

If your waste is collected by a waste carrier, broker or dealer you must check that they are registered or exempt from registration. Ask to see their certificate of registration or a certified copy. If you do not check and keep proof of this you could be held responsible if your waste is disposed of illegally, for example by fly-tipping. 

If you take your own waste to another site you must check that the site has the appropriate waste management licence, PPC permit or registered exemption for your type of waste.

Check if you need to register as a waste carrier

You can transport most waste produced by your own business directly to an authorised waste management site or recycling facility without being registered.

You must register with the NIEA as a waste carrier if you transport:

  • construction and demolition waste produced by your own business
  • any waste produced by another business

See waste carriers, brokers and dealers.

Use waste transfer notes

You must have a waste transfer note (WTN) for every load of waste you pass on or accept. WTNs must be completed and signed by both the person sending the waste and the person receiving the waste. You must keep copies of all your WTNs for at least two years.

Pre-treat waste for landfill

You must make sure that your waste is treated before it goes to a landfill site. This applies to most types of waste. You can either treat your waste yourself or make sure that a later holder of the waste will treat it before they send it to a landfill site.

Follow hazardous waste controls

You must check if you have hazardous waste that may be harmful to human health or the environment. Most businesses produce some hazardous waste, such as solvents, oily sludges or used chemicals products, eg adhesives, some paints and inks.

You must comply with additional legal requirements for hazardous waste.

Prevent pollution from spills of waste

You must ensure that you don't cause pollution when you store and transport your waste. Separate different waste materials and store them in covered, waterproof containers with clear labels.

Prepare a pollution incident response plan. Ensure accidental spills can be contained. Keep spill kits at your site and portable spill kits in vehicles used to transport waste materials.

You may need to recycle or dispose of absorbent materials used to contain spills as hazardous waste. Check before you recycle or dispose of them.