Guide

Importing and exporting waste

Importing or exporting waste under notification controls

If you import or export waste, you must first check that you are allowed to do so. Importing and exporting certain types of waste to and from some countries is banned.

Waste considered high risk under waste shipment controls is strictly regulated. To export or import this waste you need the consent of the countries involved. This consent is called a notification control.

How hazardous waste is defined for waste shipment controls may be different from the definition in the Hazardous Waste Regulations.

Importing or exporting waste covered by notification controls for safe disposal

Waste disposal includes incineration without energy generation, landfill and permanent storage of waste.

The import and export of any waste for disposal is banned except in a few limited circumstances. If you intend to import or export waste for disposal, you should contact the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) Transfrontier Shipment of Waste Helpline on Tel 028 9056 9742.

You can import or export hazardous waste from the Republic of Ireland for disposal:

  • in a specially engineered landfill
  • by incineration
  • by physicochemical treatment

This is subject to notification controls. You must apply to the NIEA for permission and send them the correct paperwork.

Importing or exporting waste covered by notification controls for recovery

Waste recovery is recycling, reclaiming and regenerating substances from all or part of waste - for example, converting waste into a raw material or using it to generate energy.

Before you move any notifiable waste you should always contact the NIEA Transfrontier Shipment of Waste Helpline.

Obligations when importing waste covered by notification controls

If you want to import waste covered by notification controls, you must:

  • apply to the competent authority in the country the waste is being exported from and pay the correct fee
  • get permission from the competent authorities of the country the waste is being sent to or from and any countries the waste passes through
  • have a financial guarantee to cover the costs of dealing with the waste if things go wrong, including the cost of returning the waste and treatment, and insurance against third-party damage liability
  • draw up a contract for waste recovery with the business arranging the waste shipment, including arrangements to return or store the waste if you are unable to complete the transfer
  • make sure the waste is transported in a safe and environmentally sound way
  • avoid mixing waste types and use the correct European Waste Catalogue (EWC) waste codes and Basel Convention code for each consignment
  • check and keep evidence that the receivers have recovered the waste in an environmentally sound way using similar methods to those used in the European Union (EU)
  • keep all documents for at least three years

If you are importing waste, the competent authority for the country of dispatch (origin) will send the notification package to your competent authority.

Complying with the REACH Regulation

If you import waste from outside the EU and recover materials and chemical substances from it, you may need to comply with the REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) Regulation.

Important: From 1 January 2021, the UK will become a third (non-EU) country.

Waste importers and exporters must prepare for changes to rules around importing and exporting waste.